When Justin’s beloved thesis advisor dies suddenly, it’s up to Justin to clear out his office- which is packed ceiling to floor with books, papers, tchotchkes, and boxes. One box proves to hold a short reel of ancient celluloid film. Curious, he takes it to a friend who works with such things, and they get to see what is on it. A woman sprouts wings and flies away- and the advisor has written on the reel “This is real”. So when Justin’s new advisor tells him that his proposed thesis is unacceptable to him, he decides to take a chance that researching the film will provide something unique enough to suit the advisor.
Some research tells Justin and his girlfriend, Veronica, that the film was shot in Appalachia, in a spot where an entire town disappeared instantaneously. They decide to head there to see what they can find. The tiny town of Needsville, the closest place to where Sadieville once stood, seems welcoming. A guide to where the film was shot is even provided to them.
The POV alternates between Justin & Veronica, and Sadieville before it vanished, so we get to know more than they do, but we still don’t know it all until their guide takes them to where the entrance to the Sadieville mine used to be. What they find there could not only change their lives, but the lives of everyone in Needsville.
When I requested this book, I didn’t realize that it was the end of a series of books about the Needsville area and the people there, the Tufa, but the story does manage to stand on its own. The author has managed to create a wonderful sense of place- the Appalachias have become a place I would love to see- and also a good sense of the Tufa as a people, despite not spending much time with any single one of them. I loved the combination of small town humanness mixed with Celtic fairie lore; the story presents a big question to the Tufa; do they want to stay in our world, or go back to fairie? What about their friends and lovers, and children? It’s a complex issue. Four and half stars.
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