Author: Delia Sherman
Neef is a changeling--a mortal child stolen away from her parents and taken to live in the fairy world. She has lived all her life in Central Park. Protected and cosseted by her fairy godmother (Astris, a white rat) and fairy godfather (Pooka the trickster), she had no idea how dangerous it is for her in the rest of the fairy world. But then she snuck into the Summer Solstice dance and enrages the Green Lady, who retaliated by kicking her out of Central Park and revoking the protection that’s always kept her safe. Neef can only come back home if she ventures out into the city and brings the Green Lady three little trinkets . . . trinkets that belong to the most powerful fairy folk in Manhattan. Now she's about to find out just how dangerous New York City can be . . .
I'm not the first person to go gaga over this book--it's gotten plenty of buzz on the kidlitospehere and it just made the VOYA 2006 Best of Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Horror list. But having read it, I can join the crowd with glee.
This is one of those books where a place is as important as any character. In this case, the place is New York City--Central Park, the harbor, Broadway, Wall Street, and all sorts of environs in between. The character of the city also permeates the fairy world, where vampires tap-dance on Broadway and the Green Lady wouldn’t be caught dead talking like that pansy Titania.
Neef is no fluffy fairy child--she is savvy, nervy, and mouthy enough to be instantly recognizable as a New York girl, even if her New York is populated with dragons, mermaids, and other magical folk. Her changeling counterpart isn’t as instantly likeable. It took a long time for me to warm up to her, and almost as long for her to start serving any purpose other than annoying Neef. However, even she becomes invaluable at the end. Pick this up for a delicious blend of quest, fairy tale, and love song for New York City.