Saturday, November 28, 2009

Ariel - Steven R. Boyett


Ariel
A Novel Of The Change
Steven R. Boyett
Ace

Urban Fantasy

This is a reprint of a novel that is widely considered a classic of its kind. I missed it the first time around (1983) so I’m glad to have a chance to read it now. For those who read it for the first time decades ago, there’s an extensive Afterword by the author, discussing how the novel came to be.

About five years before the novel begins, on an ordinary day and with no warning, The Change happened. Everything powered by electricity stopped working. Cars and machines simply stopped. Most people thought it was some temporary power outage, but the power never returned. The laws of physics had changed. Creatures from fairy tales began to appear. There was no explanation for any of this; people were simply left to cope with the aftermath.

Pete Garey was in high school when it happened. Now he wanders the country, staying out of large cities unless it’s unavoidable. It’s just safer that way. He’s learned to hunt and scavenge. And he knows that magic exists. He’s heard of unicorns, but never got close to one. Until the day she arrived with a broken leg. She could speak to him. He named her Ariel and she became his Familiar. They traveled together until they made the mistake of entering a largish town. Too many people got a look at her and word spread. A unicorn’s horn holds immense power, and there are plenty of people who might want to get hold of it. One man in particular, a necromancer in New York City, is willing to do whatever it takes to get that power.

This novel was an urban fantasy before the term was coined. It’s part fantasy and part post-apocalypse road novel. There are things in the book that are clearly dated; that no longer exist. They in no way detract from the enjoyment of the story. It’s remarkable how realistic most of the characters are, given the setting and circumstances. There are fantastical creatures here; there’s magic; and there are very human emotions and interactions that have always been, and will always be, no matter what kind of world surrounds us.

Rating: 8
September 2009 (reprint from 1983)
ISBN# 978-0-441-01794-2 (paperback)

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