October 02, 2018

Wicked Nix

Written by Lena Coakley
Illustrated by Jaime Zollars
HarperCollins Canada
163 pp.
Ages 8-12
October 2018

Wicked Nix is the foulest of fairies who lives in the forest in a nest in the old oak tree, ever since the Good Queen and all the other fairies left last Midsummer's Eve for the Summer Country.  Wicked Nix has learned to survive through some help from Mr. Green, a forest entity (or a figment of Nix's imagination?) and a little girl-people, Rose the Wise, who is not repulsed by Nix's looks. The gifts the villagers leave out, like a bit of cheese or honeycomb, to appease the fairies also help.

But now a man-people has shown up at the cottage in the forest and Wicked Nix is not happy.
I can smell him, or at least I think I can. Like all peoples, he smells like soap and taking baths and eating with a fork. Horrible. (pg. 3)
Anticipating the return of the Good Queen and knowing the presence of the man-people will displease her, Wicked Nix looks for ways to frighten the man-people away. But, unlike the other fairies, Nix has no magic and the man-people figures out the tricks used to drive him away and uses his own, including salt, iron and daisies, to keep the fairies at bay. Will Wicked Nix be successful in getting rid of the intruder or will the intruder succeed in making a home of the abandoned cottage in the fairy wood?

Lena Coakley has always spun a great YA fantasy tale (Witchlanders, 2011; Worlds of Ink and Shadow, 2016) but, with Wicked Nix, she's proven that she can write really great middle grade fiction. While Wicked Nix does not contain the angst we anticipate in YA fiction–because life becomes more complicated as you get older, doesn't it?–it delves into the worries of young readers: freedom to choose, belonging, and being loved. Wicked Nix may well be a tale of fantasy with its fairies and magic but at its roots it's a story of abandonment, home and finding connectedness, sometimes where least expected. It's also about perspective, both Nix's and the reader's, and seeing beyond the established and being open to the unexpected. And Lena Coakley has such a gentle touch with the voice of Nix and Rose and others that it's easy to empathize with their plights.
I'm sure she did not forget me, though. I'm sure she loves me. She once pulled a star down from the sky for me–that's how I know. She must have left me here to protect the forest. She must have left me here because she trusts me more than all of the others. (pg. 32)
While I encourage all readers to take the path through Wicked Nix's woods (follow Jaime Zollars's map at the beginning of the book), be sure stick to the road meant for people. Otherwise, there may be some nasty surprises in store for you and you wouldn't want to be taken by the fairies, since Nix probably won't be able to help you out.

1 comment:

  1. Everyone loves a good fairy story and this one sounds great!!