Fairy Wings

Fairy Wings: A Fairy Tale is the story of Tamisin, a girl who doesn’t fit in; eventually she learns it’s because she’s actually half fairy. She befriends Jak, another halfling—he’s half cat goblin—and they end up having adventures in the land of the Fey.

The story’s take on goblins is interesting—they’re all affiliated with different animal clans. They’re sort of a combination of a human and an animal. There are bird goblins, raccoon goblins, bear goblins, and probably many more. Jak, as a half goblin, looks human, but he has cat-like grace and reflexes and can see in very low light.

I was amused when I pieced together that Tamisin is the daughter of Titania and Bottom—their night of romance is part of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In the novel, Bottom is a human made to look like a donkey goblin by Oberon, Titania’s husband.

It’s a fairly diverting story, although it can be hard to follow. It’s told in 3 parts—first Tamisin’s story up until she goes to the land of Fey, then Jak’s story up until the same point (there’s a flashback within the flashback which momentarily confused me), and then their story continues on together. It was interesting when Jak’s story started to overlap with Tamisin’s story, so I was reading the same events but from another point of view. Still, the big break in the story while we learn about Jak felt like a tangent because Tamisin’s story had been left on a cliff hanger and I really wanted to get back to that.

I got a little lost in the minutia of the ending—I don’t know if it was unclear or if I’d just stopped paying enough attention to follow it all. I’m not sure of all of the secondary characters’ motives and I’m not sure I could tell you all the things that led up to the conflict between the fairies and the goblins. Perhaps that’s why some parts of the ending seemed a too neatly tied up—it might have made more sense if I’d caught some detail. Still, the main plot was clearly tied up, so the book was still enjoyable.

SPOILER ALERT: Things you might want to know before suggesting this to your kid


It’s more about species than race—human, fairy, and goblin—but the connections aren’t hard to make. No one trusts the humans (who as a whole don’t know about the Fey species), the fairies are dominant and civilized in the world of the Fey, and the goblins have way too much fun making trouble and they chafe against the rule of the fairies. The halflings, like Jak and Tamisin, are caught between. Each child is seen as odd and often inferior in the world they’re raised in (Jak in particular faces a hard time), yet they don’t fully fit in when they visit the other world, either.

Despite the issues faced by these children caught between worlds, they’re both capable of doing things that neither of their parent species can do—their heritages blend to make them stronger in some ways.


Jak puts up with a lot, especially at the hands of his goblin cousin, Nihlo, who repeatedly beats him up, abuses him emotionally as a small child, and eventually out and out tries to kill him. The teachers at his goblin school, particularly one elder, are no help—they’re all too willing to blame the halfling for anything, and they explicitly tell Jak and another halfling that they’re inferior to the pure blood goblins.

There are some pretty intense scenes where the goblins are chasing Tamisin—partially because she’s the only one who can see them, so no one comes to her aid. Several of the goblins would be just as happy to see her dead, so her life is often in danger. The goblins have no compunction about making things really difficult for people—they play nasty pranks and are generally vicious. Apparently they used to run an inn and restaurant where last night’s travelers are served as tonight’s dinner.

A girl in Tamisin’s school is quite nasty in a middle school kind of way, doing things like calling out Tamisin’s strange ears in front of Jak, hoping he’ll find Tamisin too weird to talk to.


Tamisin learns she’s adopted (sprouting wings is what finally tips her off) and she gets very angry with her adoptive parents. She decides she can’t call them Mom and Dad anymore because obviously her relationship with them is now totally different. After she meets her birth mother, she does briefly reflect that her adoptive mom seems more like a real mother than the fairy queen.

Tamisin’s adoptive parents are supportive of her—aside from this fairly major secret they kept from her. When she sprouts wings, her mom is more curious than alarmed. They struggle with giving her space and protecting her. They’ve found ways to adapt to the eccentricities of their adopted daughter—like building her a dance studio in the basement when it becomes obvious that she’s compelled to dance during the full moon. The basement is a safe place for her to be alone at night.

All the other parents pretty much disappear. We meet Titania later, but she doesn’t really think of anyone but herself. Jak’s parents are missing and Tamisin’s father is thought to be dead. Jak’s grandma raises him, and she actually loves him and is intrigued by the human world.


Everyone is keeping secrets. And all of these secrets lead to predictable issues—trust, having hidden things discovered and used against you, etc. One thing that’s interesting is that when Tamisin gets wings—a really big secret she’s keeping from everyone but her adoptive parents—she stops hiding her smaller secrets, like her pointed ears and her sparkly freckles.

Just Talk It Out

Many of the issues in the book are easily solved by people just being willing to actually talk. Tamisin makes a valuable friend because she listens to the frightening-looking snake woman instead of running away screaming. A tentative peace is forged between Titania and the goblins when Tamisin gets them to talk to each other. Jak has to come clean with Tamisin about his past and why he was looking for her before they can truly become friends.


Anyone who knows where babies come from will know that Titania and Bottom had sex. It’s certainly not discussed in any detail. Here’s my issue—both were under a spell, essentially drugged. Yet this isn’t really brought up as a problem. The problem is that Titania gets pregnant with a half-human, half-fairy child, and the goblins will feel mocked when they learn that Oberon was teasing Titania by making her fall in love with a donkey goblin.

I wanted more outrage that Oberon drugged two people and made them have sex with each other. It didn’t have to be the focus of the book, but I would have appreciated a hint that his actions were wrong, and not because of the baby that resulted. In fact, Titania holds Tamisin accountable for her own inconvenient birth. Overall it’s a minor point of the book, but I found it disturbing.


The Fey are always trying to slip someone something, it seems. Someone tries to give Jak and Tamisin a sleeping potion so they’re easier to kill. Jak is repeatedly poisoned by Nihlo.


For girls like my daughter who read lots of fairy stories when they first started reading on their own, this is a logical next step, probably appropriate for mature 10 year olds and up. It’s a fairly complex plot structure, so it’s best for an experienced reader. E.D. Baker writes lots of books for younger readers—this isn’t one of those.


Fairy Wings: A Fairy Tale (formerly titled Wings: A Fairy Tale) by E.D. Baker
Published in 2008 by Bloomsbury Books for Young Readers
Has a sequel Fairy Lies
Read my daughter’s copy

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