Will Shetterly,
Elsewhere
(Tor, 1992)

Elsewhere, by Will Shetterly, is a novel set in the shared world of Bordertown created by Terri Windling for a series of short story anthologies. Bordertown is a city at the Border of Faerie where elves, humans, and everyone in between live together more or less -- sometimes more and sometimes less. It's a place where magic works (usually) and technology doesn't (most of the time) -- a place where, if you keep your eyes and ears (pointed or not) open, you can find a place of your own.

Ron Starbuck takes the Elflands Express to Bordertown to look for his brother Tony as well as somewhere he can fit in. The first person he meets is Mickey, an armless woman who is the proprietor of Elsewhere, a used bookstore. After making an unscheduled exit from the train, Ron meets Mooner, a "halfie" (half elf, half human) and his sister Wiseguy. Mooner gives him a lift to Bordertown and invites him to join Castle Pup, a communal living arrangement. There he meets, among others, Florida, a half-wild elvin child living in a shack in the back garden; Sparks, a human girl with an unrequited crush on Mooner; Strider, an elf fresh out of Faerie; and Leda, the leader of Castle Pup.

He gets a job at Elsewhere and begins to fit into Bordertown. He makes some progress with Florida and is just starting to feel at home when Mooner creates a split in Castle Pup and everything falls apart, particularly for Ron. His descent has an abrupt, and, well, hair-raising surprise at the bottom, and he experiences a transformation on more than one level.

As part of the Bordertown canon, Elsewhere is a must read, but it stands alone well, drawing the reader into the strange and wild place on the edge -- in more ways than one -- that is Bordertown. In many ways, Elsewhere sets the scene for the sequel Nevernever and Emma Bull's Finder. Shetterly neatly manages to introduce background information about Bordertown to new readers without being obvious or boring those already familiar with the place. Ron is an especially interesting character, brash and tough but hiding a world of hurt. The story provides a compelling backdrop for his development.

Looking for something on the edge to read? Look Elsewhere.

[ by Donna Scanlon ]