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Never After
Rebecca Lickiss
Ace Books, 261 pages

Judy York
Never After
Rebecca Lickiss
Rebecca Lickiss has always been an avid reader, and began telling stories at an early age. She received her BS degree in Physics from George Mason University, and worked for a while as an engineer evaluating weapons software. She now lives in Colorado with her husband and children, where she spends her free time reading and writing.

Rebecca Lickiss Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Never After
SF Site Review: Eccentric Circles

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Alma A. Hromic

Yes, Never After actually DOES start with "once upon a time", and ends with "and they lived happily ever after". But what comes in between those two hoary and time-honored lines is, well, less than classic -- or more so, depending on your point of view. This is quite a concoction. The recipe involved in its creation includes straw spun into gold, the perennial enchanted frog-prince, the pea that bruised a princess's tender skin, fairy godmothers (well, it's a stretch, but...), sleeping princes and sleeping princesses and briars and magic spells and stepmothers who aren't so much evil as snobbishly and single-mindedly idiotic with a brace of wilted and whiny stepsisters. In short, a potent draught of Grimm and Andersen, mixed well, shaken and then stirred, and then allowed to ferment nicely until it makes the reader's head spin. I was so into catching fairy-tale references that I was almost startled not to see the heroine, Vevila, descend the castle tower on a Rapunzel-like vine of her own hair, pull out a red hood out of her princessly pocket, and hook up with the seven dwarves in the woods (who would no doubt turn out to be first cousins to Rumpelstilstkin). I couldn't quite figure out how to work in the Little Mermaid or Scheherezade, but I'm sure it would have come to me if I had given it some more thought.

It's like every fairy-tale you've ever read, and it's like none of them. You do want to smack the wizards over the head with something after a while, hard, and the same goes for the witch who is cast as the fairy godmother -- but then, the same goes, at some point in the story, for almost every character. Having said that, though, you want to do this at the same time that you're laughing out loud at everyone's antics. It's that sort of book.

Never After is full of bubbles, like champagne. But it's a single-read book. Aside from picking it up again to see if you can top your own record and find traces of yet another folk- or fairy-tale that you might have missed the first time, all the surprises are loosed the first time and there is nothing behind them to warrant a return. It's a rollicking, whimsical, light-hearted romp through sweetly familiar childhood scenery -- deftly enough woven but with no more substance to it than one of the somewhat fragile silk gowns the protagonists try to keep the Lady Vevila clad in and which keep shredding when the least pressure is put on the seams. Pleasant and non-demanding fare; on the literary menu, it definitely qualifies as dessert. It's meringue; it will never give you indigestion, but if taken as a whole meal it will also leave you wandering castle halls at midnight with a flickering torch in search of a more substantial snack.

Copyright © 2003 Alma A. Hromic

Alma A. Hromic, addicted (in random order) to coffee, chocolate and books, has a constant and chronic problem of "too many books, not enough bookshelves". When not collecting more books and avidly reading them (with a cup of coffee at hand), she keeps busy writing her own. Her latest fantasy work, a two-volume series entitled Changer of Days, was published by HarperCollins.

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