This month’s suggested challenge is a book from a genre other than romance. I dug into the digital TBR, back to all the free ebooks I got from Tor when Adobe Digital Editions was new and cutting-edge, and the default format was PDF. These were mostly science fiction and fantasy classics, and I never regret taking the time to read one. I just don’t get around to it very often, with all the new and shiny books available. Which is what this challenge is all about, so yay!
War for the Oaks is an urban fantasy, first published in 1987, making it one of the earliest books in this now thriving genre. Many of the characters are inhabitants of Faerie, but the heroine, Eddi McCandry, is human. The story takes place in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, and it is very grounded in the details of that place and time.
Eddi is a rock musician, a singer-songwriter-guitarist; as the book opens, she is breaking up with her boyfriend and leaving his band, taking her best friend Carla (the drummer) with her. Eddi is drafted by the Seelie Court to be the human component in their fight against the Unseelie fae, and as she gets to know the fae better, it’s a fight she joins in voluntarily. Eddi and Carla start their own rock band, and eventually the whole band is involved in the supernatural conflict over control of the Twin Cities.
The story has a strong romantic plotline for Eddi, as well as a secondary romance for Carla, and I liked the balance that brought to the book. I also really liked the details of the rock band, including the music they played, which I suspect a lot of readers wouldn’t recognize as easily as I did. I enjoyed reading the book a lot, but I probably would have loved it more when it was new. (I did read and love many books like it in the 80s and 90s, including books by Terri Windling, Charles de Lint, and of course the Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay.) Its mythos seemed a bit simplistic, which I don’t think would have been the case for me 25 years ago.
I can see why this book is considered a seminal work in the genre, and it is definitely worth reading for its present-day entertainment value, not just its place in literary history. It also made me want to reread a some old favorites — Windling’s The Wood Wife and Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin in particular.