About the Book:
Title: The Fairy Bargains of Prospect Hill
Author: Rowena Miller
Page Length: 478
Publication Date: March 28, 2023
Synopsis: On Prospect Hill, you can get nearly anything you want from the Fae—if you know how to ask and if you can pay the price.
There is no magic on Prospect Hill—or anywhere else, for that matter. But just on the other side of the veil is the world of the Fae, and all their magic. Generations ago, the first farmers on Prospect Hill learned to bargain small trades to make their lives a little easier—a bit of glass to find something lost, a cup of milk for better layers in the chicken coop.
Much of that old wisdom has been lost as the riverboats gave way to the rail lines and the farmers took work at the copper works and the cotton mill. Alaine Fairborn’s family, however, was always superstitious, and she still hums the rhymes to find her lost shoe and ensure dry weather on her sister Delphine’s wedding day.
But when Delphine confides her new husband is not the man she thought he was, Alaine will stop at nothing to help her sister escape his abuse. Small bargains buy them time, but the progress of locomotives and factories hasn’t given way to equitable laws for women. A major bargain is needed, but the price for sweeping change may be more than they’re willing to pay.
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I have mixed feelings about The Fairy Bargains of Prospect Hill. It’s a unique story with an interesting blend of historical fiction and fantasy, and the premise is intriguing. However, the plot fell flat for me, and the characters’ actions were very frustrating.
The sisters are the focus of the novel, and the chapters alternate between them. The dual perspectives offer glimpses into both of their lives and the very different directions they take from each other. I liked the sibling relationship. Elaine and Delphine have such a strong connection, so much so that they make really foolish decisions to help each other. Even when they’re apart, even when they’re mad at each other, that connection never really wanes. The strong themes of sisterhood and the fight for autonomy are my favorite part of the novel.
I also liked the relationship between Elaine and her husband. He is such a stable presence in their lives, which contrasts well with the chaos and instability that surrounds them, including worries about their livelihood, abusive spouses, faerie bargains gone awry, and more.
Two-thirds of the way through the book, the story takes a sharp turn, which leads us to a world I wish was explored more. It was so fascinating, as was the lore and magic on the farm, but it felt disjointed from the rest of the story because it is so abrupt and different in flow and development from the rest of the story. Also, the sisters constantly make poor decisions which frustrated me. Have you ever read “The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs? If so, then you know there are a million ways in which wishes can go wrong. Some of these characters need to learn from their rash decisions, but instead, they make more and more mistakes before admitting that what you wish for isn’t always what you get.
The plot also focused on some difficult subjects, including domestic abuse, gender inequality, sexism, economic insecurity, and more. There are a few darker parts that might prove triggering to some readers, so I would definitely recommend checking out the content warnings before reading.
Overall, that was an ok read for me. It’s a unique story with an interesting premise and strong messages about redemption, family, and the lengths people are willing to go to for power, influence, or those they love. Special thanks to Orbit Books for gifting me a copy. All thoughts are my own.
If I could and what I can are two very different things.
“I think I understand power,” Delphine said quietly. “And I think I know what it takes to challenge it… It doesn’t guarantee you’ll win. It takes a conviction you have to try.”