What happens when one small predator becomes a hell of a lot bigger, meaner, and deadlier?
Thanks to a chemical spill-induced mutation, tiny fairies - once so small they weren’t even able to break the skin of human beings - are now big enough to inflict their bite on people and the results are devastating. Slow, creeping insanity or outright death are the results of most fairy bites, and only approximately five percent of the population is immune. Most of the Deep South has been abandoned and only communities ringed in fairy-deterring iron are safe south of the Mason-Dixon line.
Welcome to the world of Dead on the Delta by Stacey Jay.
An epidemic of little fairies should sound silly but the actuality is freaking scary and very grim. The world of Dead on the Delta is disturbing to say the least. The main character is the totally dysfunctional Annabelle Lee (And this maiden she lived with no other thought/Than to love and be loved by me – sorry, Poe moment) who is one of the ‘lucky’ five percent that are immune to the bite of the fairy. Most of these people end up in community service of some kind – researchers, soldiers, caring for the bitten – and Annabelle is no exception. It’s her duty to go into the swamps and collect fairy samples for scientific analysis. When a little girl is found murdered in the swamp, the bite-immune Annabelle is asked to go out and get the body.
The murder mystery of how little Grace Beauchamp died is the impetus for the rest of the book. The world may have been altered by the advent of killer fairies, but small town politics, face-saving gentry, and FBI city slickers are still the same.
I love the setting of the Deep South for this book. I’ve been watching Swamp People on the History channel as of late (don't judge me, that show is awesome), and the scenes where Annabelle is tromping through the swamp are very vivid in my imagination. At first it seems a beautiful, harmless place as Annabelle carelessly traipses through it. When her lover, Cane Cooper, who is most emphatically not immune to fairy bite, is forced to go out into the same swamp, it’s a terrifying, threatening place where one wrong move can – and almost does – kill him.
I found this urban fantasy tense and interesting, but most of all, it had a fresh setting and a different kind of tale to tell. There were no vampires, no werewolves, and a unique take on the fae. It’s our world but with a tiny little twist that makes the everyday act of going outside one of breathtaking peril. It reminds me a little of Mira Grant’s Feed, actually, in terms of world-building.
I can’t wait to see where this series goes.