Urban Fantasy novel by Tad Williams. Theo Vilmos is the thirty-year-old lead singer of a small band in California, whose life is going nowhere until he starts getting hit by the worst string of bad luck imaginable. First his girlfriend has a miscarriage, and then she leaves him, taking the house. He's forced to move back in with his emotionally distant mother, and then she dies too, and he's forced to sell her house and move to a backwoods cabin. His only consolation is the discovery of an old book written by his mysterious great uncle, Eamonn Dowd, which seems to be part autobiography, part fairy tale and Theo entertains notions of getting published.Then Theo is attacked by an undead horror, gets dragged into a magical world by a six-inch tall (and very foul-mouthed) sprite named Applecore, and finds out that not only is the world in Uncle Eamonn's book very real, but most of it, particularly the sinister Lord Nidrus Hellebore, seems to want him dead.Theo travels through the strangely-modern world of Faerie, encountering along his way among others the goblin revolutionary Mud Bug Button; Poppy, beautiful daughter of Hellebore's partner in crime, Lord Aulus Thornapple; and the enigmatic Remover of Inconvenient Obstacles, who has his own stake in things that runs deeper (and closer to home) than Theo can possibly imagine ...
This Work Provides Examples Of:
Action Girl: Applecore certainly tries, but since she's six inches tall, the amount of damage she can do is limited.
Anti-Hero: Theo is a ne'er-do-well who is roped into a heroic journey. Even after he becomes more purely heroic, he never manages to establish much action cred.
Another Dimension: Faerie is a mirror universe to our more familiar world, powered by humans' belief in the supernatural. As that has faded over centuries, Faerie has become starved of energy.
Aristocrats Are Evil: At best, the fairy lords are obnoxious but harmless (like Zirus Jonquil or Rufinus weft-Daisy). Most are simply casually cruel because they don't know any other way to act. A few, like Hellebore and company, are actively and knowingly malevolent. Very rarely you'll meet a genuinely decent one, like Caradenus or Poppy.
Beast of Battle: Hellebore releases dragons to lay waste to his opponents. Also, unicorns.
Bee Bee Gun: The standard fairy sidearm fires literal Magitek bees, which keep flying forever, unless they hit something first.
Big Bad Duumvirate: Deconstructed. It starts off with Lords Hellebore, Thornapple, and Foxglove forming one, but Hellebore's intelligence, ruthlessness, and force of personality gradually marginalizes Foxglove and demotes Thornapple into The Dragon.
Binding Ancient Treaty: The reason why the goblins accept their low station in life. However, the treaty could have been broken all the time if the goblin willing to destroy the artifact representing the treaty were willing to die for it.
Bishōnen: All the male fairy lords are described as slim, pale, and supernaturally handsome.
Broken Bird: Poppy is first introduced as a self-centered, spoiled child of a fairy lord, but suffers terribly once her father's villainy is revealed. When she comes to Theo in Goblin Town, she's a shell of her former lively self.
Changeling Fantasy: Theo, aka Septimus Violet, is revealed to be a changeling. The Terrible Child is the mortal who was switched out when he was slipped in, and Dowd did the switching.
Chekhov's Gun: Theo's nymph-bond turns out to be crucial in the climax. He enters the water and thereby surrenders to their claim, causing the irrha to lose its lock on him and go after the Terrible Child instead.
The Chessmaster: Nidrus Hellebore and the Remover play very complex and long-running games. Hellebore, of course, plans to create an apocalypse in Theo's world in order to restore humanity's belief in the supernatural, and the Remover has been opposing him.
City of Adventure: The City is the focal point for the first half of the book, up until Hellebore fully reveals his villainy.
The End of the World as We Know It: Hellebore plans to unleash a cataclysm on Earth to knock civilization back to the dark ages, thereby giving the fairies a stronger supply of the belief and superstition they need to run their civilization and keeping him stably in power.
Enfante Terrible: The Terrible Child is a changeling from the human world, raised in the land of Faerie as a means to link the two realms. Thanks to Hellebore's influence, the Child is both pettily evil and powerfully wrong.
For the Evulz: Neither Anton Hellebore nor the Terrible Child seem to need much reason to do evil beyond personal enjoyment. This is directly contrasted with Lord Hellebore, who always has a purpose for his evil actions, albeit usually one that only justifies things to him.
Foreshadowing: Even before Theo enters Fairie, the story occasionally implies that there's something unusual about him - examples are his amazing singing voice and the fact he looks very attractive to both women and men as well as his constant feeling that he doesn't belong.
Garage Band: Theo is the lead singer in one. He notes that for a man of thirty, this is rather embarassing.
Gods Need Prayer Badly: The fairies are powered by mortal belief. As that's waned, they've had to find other sources of power for their civilization, primarily by draining the magic out of other, live fairies. Hellebore, of course, has a plan to change things ...
Go Mad from the Revelation: The reason the Remover always cloaks himself in shadow - the last person who looked at him directly, Erephine Primrose, went insane on the spot. Theo catches only a quick glimpse of him, enough to know he doesn't want to see any more.
Grand Theft Me: Standard operating procedure for the irrha and also for its summoner, Dowd/the Remover.
Heroic Sacrifice: Button breaks the oath rod holding the goblins bound to the fairy lords, knowing that even though the other goblins will be pleased by their freedom, they will be compelled by tradition to kill him. They do.
Also Theo throwing himself into the Well so the nymph will claim him, confusing the irrha and causing it to go for his "twin", the Terrible Child, instead.
Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action: People continually mistake Theo and Applecore for a couple. Later, Applecore does get together with Cumber, a fairy Theo's size.
In fact, a number of large-sized fairies hit on Applecore. When Theo asks how intercourse would work, he's told there is surgery to address the issue.
Luke, I Am Your Father: The Remover is really none other than Great Uncle Eamonn Dowd himself - though, because Theo is a changeling, he's actually not Theo's great uncle. He's the Terrible Child's great uncle..
Mad Scientist/ Evil Sorcerer: The line between the two is a bit blurry here, as the fairies consider magic and science to be the same thing, but there are some definite examples who fit both tropes - Nidrus and Anton Hellebore, the Remover of Inconvenient Obstacles, and Count Tansy.
Narnia Time: Time flows differently in Faerie, though exactly what this means varies.
Nobody Poops: Averted with a vengeance - Theo is surprised and more than a little squicked to learn that fairies have bodily functions the same as everybody else.
One-Winged Angel: Inverted. The Remover's true form is monstrous, but is also sickly and weak. He can temporarily turn himself into a more able (and somewhat better-looking) form when he has to leave home on business.
Our Dragons Are Different: The most powerful individual creatures in Faerie, basically, hunted almost to extinction for this reason, though Hellebore bred a handful for when he needed to go for both destruction and grand theatricality.
Our Elves Are Better: Though the ruling class of Faerie are just called "fairies", they are very close to typical fantasy elves in a lot of respects.
The Queen's Latin: The fairies all have English or Irish accents despite being from Another Dimension. This is justified because of how the magic of Faerie works - it translates languages for visiting mortals, and they hear the words and accents they expect.