Friday, November 13, 2015

Emily Feather and the Starlit Staircase by Holly Webb

In the final book if the Emily Feather quartet, Emily's feelings of displacement that have been lingering since the first book, when she discovered she was the adopted human child in a family of fairies, are finally put to rest. However, there are a lot of dangerous adventures before that can happen.

This is the most emotional of the quartet, as Emily finally realizes who she is and where she fits in her family. She and her twin sisters, Lark and Lory, and little brother Robin are figuring out how to get along now that things are different and Emily not only knows about magic but has a little magic of her own. They have normal sibling rivalries and squabbles, but with a little extra magic. But then they find that Eva, their mother, has been hiding a secret: she's going to have a baby, and it's happening soon. All the children react differently; Lory is furiously angry that her mother kept a secret, Robin is worried about no longer being the baby, and Emily is alternately excited about a baby and devastated to think that this child will "belong" in a way she never can. Emily is nearly lost for good when she abruptly leaves home to hide out with her human friend and try to think things over, but her parents' and siblings response makes her slowly start to let go of her fears and insecurity. When Robin takes her back in time to see her possible past and she meets her scared teen mother, Emily realizes she really does belong to her family. But her mother still has to give birth in fairyland and there's something dangerous lurking in the wood...

Although this book, and the whole series, tackles serious feelings, it's done in a light and gentle way that neither over-dramatizes nor discounts the real emotion Emily feels. Her teen mother is a little overly dramatic and the final revelations about her new baby sister, Wren comes a little pat, but it all fits into the light fantasy feel of the story. There aren't any final and definitive answers; Emily will never know for certain what happened to her birth mother, she doesn't know what her magic will turn into, and her family will always be different but she no longer doubts that she belongs.

Verdict: This is an utterly satisfying end to Emily's story. Perfect for fantasy fans who can't handle a 400 page tome of drama and embroiled plots, but like a little more character development than the typical beginning chapter book. Definitely worth taking a little trouble to purchase the UK editions.

ISBN: 9781407130958; Published 2014 by Scholastic UK; Purchased for my personal library

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