Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Back to Scarborough Fair

Lucy Scarborough might have broken the curse that plagued the women in her family for 400 years, but Fenella Scarborough (the girl who started the whole mess in the first place) is still stuck in the Faerie Realm, impossibly long-lived and taunted by the very creature who cursed her family. Desperate to become mortal so she can die, Fenella strikes a bargain with the Faerie Queen: If she can commit three acts of destruction to counter the original curse's acts of creation, she will become 100% mortal and be free of all ties to Faerie. Fenella agrees--even after she discovers the destructive acts must be committed against her own family. Thus, Fenella returns to Earth and, after she gains the trust of Lucy and her family, instantly begins to do whatever she can to sabotage their safety, their love, and their hope. And if she refuses or fails? The Scarborough women will once again be victims of the original curse. Eventually Fenella succeeds in the destructive acts, freeing herself and, by association, her family from all ties to Faerie. But how can her family accept her after all the terrible things she's done? The fact Fenella got herself into such a terrible mess is Unthinkable.

This sequel to Impossible (2008) fails to measure up to its predecessor. Unlike Lucy, who the reader can certainly root for, Fenella is a selfish, untrustworthy, unlikable character who never manages to redeem herself in the eyes of the reader. How can one feel anything but scorn for a character who purposefully does terrible things (arson? kidnapping? attempted murder?) to characters the reader already knows and likes? Worse, beloved characters are reduced to cardboard cutouts of their former selves. Even spotty romance feels forced. The one bright spot is Fenella's faerie feline helper, who is snarky, funny, and does a complete 180 by the end of the book.  If you liked Impossible, my advice is to skip Unthinkable. It'll only spoil the original story for you. --AJB

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