The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The story centers on an old unpublished manuscript, The Little Country by William Dunthorn. The novelist has asked his closest friend, Tom Little (otherwise known as the Gaffer), to protect his unpublished works after his death. The Gaffer knows only that this novel cannot ever be published. The troubles begin when Tom Little’s granddaughter, Janey Little, a folk musician in her twenties, finds the novel in Tom’s attic and begins reading it.

The events in the manuscript unfold with their own magical overtones. Jodi Sheperd, a young, inquisitive girl, has stumbled on the Widow Pender’s captured Small, or fairy, and has been turned into a Small herself. A host of other characters help to free Jodi from her enchantment: Tatters children; Hedrick Henkie Whale, an eccentric artist; Denzil Gossip, an inventor; Brengy Taupin, a hedgerow philosopher; and Lizzie Snell, the mayor’s secretary. Through the course of the story, Jodi realizes that the free creativity of the fairy world and the logic and reason of humanity are two halves of the same mind and need each other.

The act of opening Dunthorn’s novel sounds a magical note in the real world that is heard by the leader of a secret society, John Madden, ruling patriarch of the Order of the Gray Dove. For years, he has been trying to lay hands on this last, unpublished work by Dunthorn because he believes he can use it as a magical talisman in his own pursuits of magic and power. In his scheme to acquire the manuscript, Madden employs Michael Bett, a megalomaniacal character with...

(The entire section is 640 words.)