forward to it all year, we usually go at least twice (which is good 'cause we got caught in a wicked torrential downpour that canceled most of the good acts, but that's ok 'cause we had already seen almost everything we came to see.), we listen to great music, eat all kinds of inauthentic junk food, window shop for all kinds of crazy things, and ogle all the myriads of interpretations of Renaissance wear. Obviously I've got a thing for these fair's so imagine my delight when I found a series of books set at Renaissance Fairs!!!!!
The Faire Folk Trilogy follows a girl named Keelie Heartwood as she goes from an LA city girl, to learning she is a half-elf who can talk to tree's...and oh yeah her bodyguard is a fat orange cat.
Tree Shepherd's Daughter is the first book in the series and is set at the Colorado Renaissance Festival. Following her mothers death in a plane crash, Keelie (short for Keliel) gets sent to live with her father, with whom she has had little to no contact for many years. Turns out Keelie's father is a very talented woodcarver who works the RenFest circuit, and oh yeah he's an elf, but not just any elf, a Tree Shepherd, who's job it is to take care of the tree's. Understandably Keelie is a tad overwhelmed, what with trading in her LA city life for one of scratchy hand me down costumes, food on a stick and knights...well the knights aren't all bad. After several attempts to run a way, or make her father so miserable he sends her away, she starts to make friends. Raven is an older girl who balances her mothers Ren style of living with her own quirky gothness and is a great help in introducing Keelie to the Ren world. Ariel is a hawk with whom Keelie has bonded with. Sir Davey is an honest to goodness dwarf who trains Keelie in earth magic and brings some modern comfort to her life, and Sean O'the Woods is the handsome albeit slightly older (he's like 70 or something) jouster who has caught Keelies affections. Then there is Elinard and his beautiful, etherial snotty mean daughter Elia. As in all good books, trouble ensues, magic abounds and Keelie and her father find some common ground to start working on their relationship. Keelie saves the day, learns a little more about her past and starts to be slowly accepted by the full blooded elves.
Into the Wildewood is the second book in the trilogy. Keelie has begun to accept her life of the RenFest circuit and has even embraced certain aspects of it (the clothes are kind of awesome!) Just when she feels she is starting to get a handle on things, she gets in trouble for overspending on her father's credit card and has to work as a Jill-of-all-trades at the Wildewood Faire, which has a more Robin Hood based Medieval theme to it. To make matters worse, her best friend is visiting, her father is sick and the tree's are out of control! It is up to Keelie to try and balance all aspects of her life while still trying to get and hold the attentions of a certain jouster. The ending to this one was a little abrupt for my taste, but still fun.
The Secrets of the Dread Forest is the third book in the trilogy. This action takes place in one of the homes of the Elves, the Dread Forest in Oregon. I was missing the Ren Faire's in this one, but you get a lot of background. Keelie learns the rest of her family history, including her place in one of the leading families. She learns more of her mother, and her relationship with her father. We see a lot of the culture of the elves and get to know more about some of the other races (especially the fairys, which are NOT what you expect). Keelie is stuck with her imposing elven grandmother, while her father is preoccupied with his duties as Lord of the Forest. She is tutored in the ways of the elves and practices her tree and earth magic, oh yeah and then there is the little tree princess Alora, who I am kinda in love with. In the end life ends up working out as well as can be expected and they all live happily until the next book.
These are pretty quick reads, definitely aimed at the YA crowd, but I love them anyways. They are a fairly safe read, no major drugs or sex or violence, the drinking is totally in context and perfectly age appropriate so thats all good. I loved the description of the RenFest's, and I really like seeing the behind the scene's stuff that went on, you can tell the author has spent some time on the circuit herself. I also really like how Keelie took time to come to terms with what was going on in her life, she didn't immediatly forget her dead mother, or magically reconcile with her father, the fact that it is played out over three books makes it very believable (even if it is about tree-talking elves). Despite being a half-elf, Keelie acts very much like a normal teenager, and her father acts like a bewildered father who has been handed a teenage girl with no idea what to do with her. The only real complaint I have is the ending to all of these books seems kind of abrupt, like the adventure part of the storyline was secondary and she forgot she had to wrap it up every time, the endings did not always make sense to me so that kind of sucked. Other then that I would recommend them for a wide variety of readers.
Do you love RenFests? What ones have you been too? Do you go in costume? Do you have dreams of turkey legs?