The Blue Girl by Charles deLint
While I must admit to being disappointed that Mr. deLint didn’t write the ultimate, genre-bending (and probably genre-ending) urban fantasy/sex-ninja/”naughty-tentacle” novel, I did, in fact, really enjoy this book.
It’s the story of Imogene, who’s fairly recently arrived at Redding High School in Newford, and doesn’t fit in (and doesn’t want to), and of Maxine, who doesn’t fit in either and who Imogene has chosen to be her friend, and of Adrian, who has been at Redding for years and also doesn’t fit in, because he’s dead. Imogene is a transfer from out of town; she, her brother and her mother have moved to Newford to get their lives together and get away from bad influences in their old town–including Imogene’s father, who is a nice guy but a second-generation hippy and a major pothead (most of this description can be applied to her Mother, too, but she is an ex-pothead and is trying to get her act together for the kids’ sakes). Maxine is a genius and has a high-pressure mother who drives her a bit too hard. Friendship with Imogene gives Maxine an outlet, and in turn helps Imogene turn her life around from trouble-maker to, if not normality, at least a good student and someone with a future. Adrian, the ultimate outsider, is haunting the high-school where he died when a group of fairies induced him to throw himself off the roof (He was a smart kid, but he was not the wisest kid).
So Adrian gets a crush on the outgoing Imogene (not surprising; I sorta did too), and to his surprise she can see him, but she’s not interested in returning his feelings and she doesn’t believe him when he tells her about the fairies. When he asks them to let her see them, they agree to do something; but they are at best mischievous creatures and at worst, well, their sense of humour led to his own death some years before. Will the attention of the fairies put Imogene into danger? And what about Imogene’s childhood imaginary friend, long abandoned, now regularly visiting her at night (dreams?) and offering an obscure warning?
This is one of deLint’s best books in a while; all of the characters are well drawn and believable (even the fantastic ones), and while the structure is a bit complex (it is told in chapters “Imogene Now”, “Imogene Then”, “Maxine Now”, “Maxine Then”, “Adrian Now” and “Adrian Then”, where the “Then” chapters are flashbacks) it is never hard to figure out when things are happening relative to each other. Of course, being deLint it’s a dark story, but it’s also one of the most hopeful I’ve read in a long time.