Imagine Rumpelstiltskin, Snow White, and Morgan Le Fey folded into one story and you'll have some idea of Alice Thomas Ellis's quirky novel, Fairy Tale. Set in the wooded hills and remote valleys of Wales, Ellis's modern-day romance follows the fortunes of young Eloise and her paramour, Simon, as they leave promising careers in London behind and adopt, instead, a rural life. Simon, who had a future in advertising, becomes a woodworker, while Eloise makes her living sewing chic clothing out of old lace. Despite their idyllic surroundings, Eloise is beginning to feel bored by the quiet life--so much so that she wishes for a baby to give her life purpose. Be careful what you wish for, Eloise--the magic begins when four mysterious men appear in Eloise's garden just as she pricks her finger with a needle, dripping a drop of blood onto her white lace. Before you can say "Magic Mirror on the Wall," all kinds of fey events begin to happen: Eloise disappears on long walks in the woods, one time emerging bone dry from a stroll in a rainstorm, another time returning home with a mysterious green-eyed, silver-haired baby.
Readers will understand that the characters in this novel are not what they seem far sooner than Eloise and Simon do; nevertheless, half the fun in this moonstruck novel is Ellis's juxtaposition of her oblivious human characters with her all-too-aware--and slightly scary--fairy ones. Light, slightly satirical, impeccably written, this is one Fairy Tale meant for adults.