Wicked Nix, “The Foulest of Fairies,” Will Win Your Heart

Lynn: “There is a people in our forest,” Nix, “the foulest of fairies,” worriedly announces in the first chapter of Lena Coakley’s Wicked Nix (2018). Left behind when the other fairies went home to the Summer Country, Nix has lived in the forest alone for almost a year. Was he left to protect the forest for the Fairy Queen? Nix is uncertain; he just knows “a people” has come to the abandoned cottage in the woods—and he must get the outsider to leave before Midsummer’s Eve! But it will take all of Nix’s magic and his wiliest tricks.

Wicked Nix by Lena CoakleyThis clever tale is beautifully told, immediately engaging readers and pulling them into an enchanting web. Perfect for young readers ready to move from Disney fairies to classic fairy tales, this story offers both the requisite hint of cruelty in its depiction of fairies and an exploration of magic and self-deception. Themes of love and family remain heartwarming threads throughout, ultimately triumphing over all else.

At once endearing, believable, and tinged with doubt, Nix’s voice, too, is perfectly crafted; Coakley achieves real magic here. This lyrical, layered story, told in simple vocabulary, is well suited to young readers just taking on chapter books.

That the story is for young readers
is just icing on the toadstool.

Cindy: Ooh . . . fairies who trick and a human who stands his ground! What’s not to love? That the story is for young readers is just icing on the toadstool. Here’s Nix throwing down the gauntlet:

“I warn you. If you don’t leave, I will put a curse upon your garden so that nothing grows but thorns. I will put a spell upon your hearth so that your fire always smokes. I will turn your well water into skunk spit and . . . and frog pee. I will give your cow wings, and she will fly to the moon!”

Wicked Nix is sure the man will leave and never return. Nix is sure he’s about to “beg my fairy pardon.” That is not to be. The man’s reply:

“Do your worst, Wicked Nix, foulest of the fairies! This cottage is mine, and I will never leave.”

Of course, now Wicked Nix must deliver on his threats. There’s just one problem: he doesn’t know how to cast any of those curses he promised. And away we go. Wicked Nix reminds me of the child who gets angry at his parents and runs away from home—until reality hits. He is a character young readers will love, and his vulnerability will win the hearts of the adults reading this aloud at bedtime or in the classroom. Jaime Zollars’ enchanting illustrations throughout the book only add to the delight. I do hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Wicked Nix—young readers will feel the same.

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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