Review: Haffling by Caleb James

 When Alex's mother goes missing, everything falls apart. Frantic, he tracks her to a remote corner of Manhattan and is transported to another dimension—the land of the Unsee, the realm of the Fey. There he finds his mother held captive by the power-mad Queen May and learns he is half-human and half-fey—a Haffling.

As Alex’s human world is being destroyed, the Unsee is being devoured by a ravenous mist. Fey is vanishing, and May needs to cross into the human world. She needs something only Alex can provide, and she will stop at nothing to possess it… to possess him

All sixteen-year-old Alex Nevus wants is to be two years older and become his sister Alice’s legal guardian. That, and he’d like his first kiss, preferably with Jerod Haynes, the straight boy with the beautiful girlfriend and the perfect life. Sadly, wanting something and getting it are very different. Strapped with a mentally ill mother, Alex fears for his own sanity. Having a fairy on his shoulder only he can see doesn't help, and his mom's schizophrenia places him and Alice in constant jeopardy of being carted back into foster care.

Do you remember when you first started reading Harry Potter and you realized how bleak those first chapters were and you couldn't help but think "wait this is a children's story?" That's the same inkling I had when I began reading Haffling by Caleb James. The tale fits right in with the original Grimm Fairytales where almost everyone gets screwed and not in the fun way. And even though you know there is a good chance there won't be a happy ending (even when your dreams come you know it comes at a steep price)- dang doesn't this draw you into the story even more?

Alex and his younger sister Alice are doing everything they can just to make it through the day. They fend off bullies and hunger all the while trying to keep social services from realizing how messed up their mother has become. Alex is trying desperately to protect Alice.  One of the best and most heart wrenching quotes is between Alex and Lorraine a social worker who is trying to help him when she mentions how unfair his life is Alex responds,
"There is no fair" I said "It's just a made-up thing" She looked at me. There were tear in the corners of her eyes. "I know that, but someone your age shouldn't."

 This quote guts me because that is the difference between the innocence of childhood and the reality of being an adult.

Thank goodness for Alex's crush Jarod who shows up in all his shiny armor glory to bring sunshine to Alex and me cause we kind of needed it by this point... a little bit of happy for all of us... The romance is really low key though and for any who care, pretty clean.

Haffling is high fantasy at its purest. The story is all about adventure and quests and all of those mystical beings from classic fairytales. Mr. James does an excellent job of creating both a believable real world and the land of the Fey. As seems to be the trend in most modern fairytales Haffling is a good mashup of real world setting and problems meeting old world fears that had people huddling together over candlelight at night.

Even though Haffling is listed as a Young Adult Fantasy it really is geared for fantasy lovers of all ages. I highly recommend.

A copy provided by the author for an honest review. 

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