Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton is one of those GU books that gets demoted to “honorable mention” in my mind because of the lackluster confrontation with the adversary. The tension between the protagonist and the adversary is a crucial component of the GU archetype, and without it the story sort of wanders in my opinion.
Teagan, a teenager who’s in a fairly good place in her life, suddenly loses her mother to a shadowy creature just after her mysterious Irish cousin arrives. As she deals with this death, her father is then stolen from her. Her cousin Finn takes Teagan and her younger brother in and out of the otherworld looking for answers. They are helped by her Irish Traveller grandmother, who sends them back into the otherworld on a quest to rescue her father and discover her true nature. However, when they find her father, and finally confront the dark fairy king who has captured him, the adversary is defeated rather easily and it all wraps up after that. There’s not much volition on Teagan’s part, as she is mostly just following around people who know what’s going on more than she does.
That same lack of volition is partly what makes me categorize Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston as an honorable mention as well. Kelley, 17, an orphan raised by her aunt, is suddenly promoted to the lead in her theatre company’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. One night in the park she rescues a drowning horse that turns out not to be a horse at all, and suddenly it seems there are many otherworldly creatures running around, and many of them are particularly interested in her. Her only protection is a changeling guard who begins to fall in love with her just as he discovers her true identity – unknown to Kelley herself. The adversary appears to be Mabh, a fairy queen, but the supposedly good fairy king is not exactly what he seems.
Kelley and her companions struggle to defeat Mabh’s plan of bringing forth the Wild Hunt to terrorize mortals, but Kelley herself is mostly swept up in what’s going on around her, and often just trying to stay alive. She doesn’t really stand out as a strong protagonist, but that’s what you tend to get with these supernatural romance novels (which unfortunately comprise the bulk of new GU-type YA books these days).