Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner is an imaginative twist on the post-apocalyptic narrative – the story takes place years after a sudden and extremely destructive war between our world and Faerie. Liza, a teenager, has grown up in a world without technology but with the remnants of 21st century life laying dormant around her. What’s more, the touch of Faerie upon her world lingers (even after its denizens have retreated), and creates danger everywhere: crops that fight back when you try to harvest them, trees that attack, butterflies that burst into flame, shadows that stalk and kill.
In Liza’s village, which is all she’s ever known, magic is feared and hated as a dangerous connection to Faerie. If a child exhibits any telltale signs of magical ability (such as translucent hair) it is killed outright. There are harsh rules of behavior, and Liza’s father whips her savagely whenever she transgresses even a little. After the birth of her baby sister, who showed magic and was immediately killed by her father, Liza’s mother runs away without a word (with absent mother and vicious father, she is virtually parentless, like most Girls Underground).
Upon discovering that she too may be tainted with magic, Liza also flees her village, hoping to spare them her destructive potential. She is followed by a friend, Matthew, who is quickly revealed to be magic himself. They find another village where magic is not reviled by rather warily welcomed and worked with – and the villagers there know Liza’s mother and can guess where she might have gone. So, with Matthew (who is sometimes an animal), Tallow (her cat), and Allie, a young healer, Liza sets off to find her mother. Along the way the companions face many obstacles and dangers, and Liza slowly begins to understand the full extent of her powers. Throughout most of the book there is not a single adversary, but by the end Liza’s own father fulfills that role, and indeed she faces him alone and defeats him.
After Liza brings back her mother from the land of Faerie, she must find a way to heal her wounds, and furthermore heal the lands on both sides of the war, each of which has been hurt deeply. And in doing so, she realizes she is More than she ever imagined.