If you must analyze unlikely effects for a realistic cause, and cannot allow yourself to escape into adult fantasy, Graham Joyce’s Some Kind of Fairy Tale may offer you an antidote. This story of a young girl who returns on Christmas Day, after being missing for twenty years, can be read as a miraculous recovery from abduction or a fantastic tale of fairies and magic – depending on the reader.
Tara, who has been missing for twenty years, suddenly knocks on her parents’ door on Christmas day, explaining her absence and her youthful looks on her time-warped excursion to another dimension. While she appears no more than eighteen years old – the age of her teeth confirmed by dental examinations – her parents, brother, and teenage lover have all matured into their thirties. As Tara relates her tale to a psychiatrist hired by her brother, Joyce cleverly inserts descriptions of other-worldly experiences and Tara’s new-found skills to counter the doctor’s clinical analysis and explanations for the sexual references. Each chapter also begins with a reference to the credibility of fairies or a quote promoting the value of fantasy…
“When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than any talent for abstract, positive thinking.” Albert Einstein
Is Tara mentally unstable or has she had an experience in another dimension? Joyce cleverly inserts credible foils for both – the truth may depend on what others believed happened to her as well as what she believes herself. A subplot about a missing cat provides the clue to Joyce’s well disguised theme – how people change over the years, and not always for the best.
Knowing Joyce has won four British Fantasy Awards is a clue to reading the story. I had the feeling the author was subtly smirking through the fabrications, but the distraction did not keep me from reading to discover Tara’s final outcome.