Nancy Springer’s mystical THE ODDLING PRINCE is astonishing

Lila Garrott in LOCUS (August 2018) praises Nancy Springer’s THE ODDLING PRINCE.

The astonishing thing about this book is how nice everybody is. Bad things  happen, violence and family quarreling, dark enchantment and emotional wounding, but the overall impression is of a group of people who are at heart nobly striving to do their best in a set of difficult situations. Partly this is because Aric is an incurable optimist who sees everyone that way, but the sheer sunniness of his narration is convincing: somehow, despite everything, this book is as friendly as a warm bath.

The magical touches, such as most of the details about Alaric, are handled deftly, and give a real sense of the unexplained and inexplicable.


The other thing that turns out to be astonishing
about this book is its ending, which seems to come
out of nowhere, but which was actually very carefully
foreshadowed and set up. If you’re looking at
the Arthurian echoes, you expect things to go one
direction; if you’re taking the characters and world
as independent entities with no relation to a larger
established mythos, you expect things to go another
direction; neither prediction is accurate. The
ending may not entirely work, but it’s audacious,
unexpected, and go-for-broke in a way that makes
the book a more memorable piece. It justifies the
entire liminal not-not-Arthurian experience, hazy
and confusing as that initially seemed to be. It also
left me both staring at the page in muddled wonder
for quite some time, and determined to read more
Nancy Springer.

Photo: Bob O’Lary

TALES UNTANGLED enjoys the novel.

Historically the fey are nothing but trouble for humankind. In this case, the fey started the trouble, but didn’t necessarily end it. Why do the fey always cause problems? Because they’re immortal and we’re not is the simple answer. Maybe the more complex answer is that they can’t really understand love. So, the moral is when the fey fall in love, mortal better watch out. The whole time while reading THE ODDLING PRINCE, I felt like I was hearing a dream while underwater. In other words, it’s strange, but I liked it.

It has a mystical quality from the very beginning when we realize the king is dying not because of a war, assassin or other plague, but from a ring on his hand – a ring that won’t come off and we can guess that’s because it’s from another place, the fairyland.

For more info about THE ODDLING PRINCE, visit the Tachyon page.

Cover art by Brian Giberson

Design by Elizabeth Story