Friday, March 12, 2021

Guy Friday- The Wild Huntsboys

Well, here's a blast from the past! The Wild Huntsboys reminded me of Brennan's The Demon's Lexicon (2009) in many ways, which made me think of this picture from 2010 that I used for many years on Guy Fridays! I have three of the four books in my library still; the skateboarding one I suspect is long gone. Anyway, I've been blogging for a LONG time!

Stewart, Martin. The Wild Huntsboys 
March 9th 2021 by Viking Books for Young Readers
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Luka lives in a dystopian future, in Bellum, which is war torn and horrible. There is technology, when their aren't curfews, but his father has been killed in the fighting, and his mother frequently has to work away from home with the Civil Defense Corps. His younger sister, Elena, is young enough that she is evacuated to an island with other youngsters, but Luka is left to fend for himself. Before she leaves, Elena asks Luka to feed the fairies bread and milk outside of her bedroom window. He intends to, but when bombs are dropping on his neighborhood that night, he flings the food against a nearby tree. He doesn't believe that the fairies are real, but they are, and before he knows it, his house is marked by tiny bloody hand prints against the unbreakable windows-- that have hairline cracks in them. To make matters worse, Max is billeted in his house, and Hazel, a boy he has met out in the city, is spying on him. Not only that, but soon Jem, a fairy, has moved in as well and is threatening that he will eat Luka's eyeballs in three days when "the reckoning" rolls around! Hazel, who is a technological wiz, and Max, who has a strong sense of survival after having been bombed out twice, manage to subdue Jem by handcuffing him to Luka's wrist, but since the fairies will also claim Elena as their own, Luka must try to act to avert the fairies' wrath. He starts by trying to win Jem over by retrieving Jem's sword, but this brings him into contact with the Junkyard Knight and his Lost Boys, who wander the city collecting electronics and metal and generally wreaking havoc. This is a problem, because one of the things Luka needs to do is to find iron with which to fortify his house against the fairies. There are also government agents with which to deal: a Warden, who has to check on Luka when his mother is gone, and the shady Trenchcoat  who always seems to be around when Luka least needs him to be. Dubbing themselves the Wild Huntsboys, Luka, Hazel, and Max try to secure iron from various unsavory places in the city. At one point, they end up with part of a wing of a downed airplane that is the key to the survival of their entire city. With both the city and his sister's life on the line, will Luka be able to keep both safe?

There were several things to recommend this. First and foremost, there is excellent world building. Luka's existence in Bellum is raw and treacherous, and his home, which has been a haven against all of this, in endangered when he ignores his sister and angers the fairies. We don't know how Elena found out about the fairies, but when treated well, the fairies are a big help. When their lore is forgotten and they feel slighted, they exact a terrible toll from the humans. I loved that we see Luka being dismissive of this idea until he is faced with an irate fairy tethered to his wrist, threatening him all sorts of imaginative harm! 

The other thing that I loved was the scrappy, insulting, back-and-forth nature of all three boys. They are gross and dirty, and yell insults at each other and at the Junkyard King. This gave the book a lot of middle grade humor and a feeling of parent-free chaos that made me chuckle and will be adored by readers who are the same age. Stewart seems to remember what it is like to be twelve and translates a sort of Lord of the Flies feeling into a more humorous way of dealing with a dystopian environment. After all, when evil fairies are after you, no holds are barred!

For readers who want deeper philosophical themes to their books, we do have the touching bond between Luka and his sister, and an even more interesting bond that we see form between Luka and Jem. While Luka does take responsibility for slighting the fair folk, he also works hard to try to make amends. He certainly wins over Jem, but will it be enough to appease the leader of the fae?

I don't quite see the similarities to Adam Gidwitz mentioned in the book blurb, but this did remind me of Sarah Rees Brennan's The Demon's Lexicon, and a  little bit of Older's Flood City. Of course, comparisons have to be made to Colfer's Artemis Fowl as well, but I have to say that The Wild Huntsboys had me rooting for Luka in a way that I never could champion the wily Artemis. I'll definitely purchase this for my library, and while it won't be the book for every reader, it will certainly delight the right one. 

1 comment:

  1. Oh, wow, this looks good! And thanks for bringing back Guy Friday.