Seven years after her mother's disappearance, Rowan returns to the tree in Hyde Park, where she spent her last happy hours with her mother and sister, Willow. Overwhelmed by caring for her father and sister, longing for her mother, she falls asleep crying...and wakes up a fairy. She meets another fairy, Aiken (shown as a dark-skinned boy on the cover) and a friendly robin, Harold, who tell her that she is now, and forever, a fairy. She can never leave the safety of the park, never return to her family. Rowan refuses to accept this; even though she fell asleep feeling unloved, misses her mother dreadfully, and isn't sure her family really loves her, she knows for sure that she loves them and they need her.
Rowan sets out on a journey that will take her across London, to a network of parks, and into contact with powerful fairies, magical animals, and evil villains. Along the way she discovers inner strength and magic and finds out the truth of what happened to her mother many years ago. The story ends with Rowan managing to change back to human, but it's a bittersweet victory; her mother is still trapped in the fairy world and there are still dangers from the evil foxes, and the obsessive river fairies. A war is brewing in the fairy's world and Rowan has left her mother behind in its midst.
This is a shorter fantasy, coming in at 180 pages, it's a good choice for readers who are past the beginning chapter phase but not ready for doorstoppers yet. It's rather British - the different parks, references to the queen, Peter Pan, etc. although I found it refreshing that Rowan didn't know everything either - she didn't know who Queen Victoria was, since they "hadn't done that yet" in school! I was personally a little annoyed that the foxes were evil, since I like foxes, but it does work with the story.
Verdict: Not earth-shattering, but a sweet story with lots of miniature details and magical elements that will attract Rainbow Magic readers ready for a longer chapter book. The cliffhanger at the end promises sequels and while the story is sad at the beginning and takes a little while to get moving, once the fairies make an appearance it's all action.
ISBN: 9781481481915; This edition published 2017 by Aladdin; Borrowed from another library in my consortium