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Acclaimed by critics and readers on its first publication in 1987, winner of the Locus Award for Best First Novel, Emma Bull's War for the Oaks is one of the novels that has defined modern urban fantasy. Eddi McCandry sings rock and roll. But she's breaking up with her boyfriend, her band just broke up, and life could hardly be worse. Then, walking home through downtown Acclaimed by critics and readers on its first publication in 1987, winner of the Locus Award for Best First Novel, Emma Bull's War for the Oaks is one of the novels that has defined modern urban fantasy. Eddi McCandry sings rock and roll. But she's breaking up with her boyfriend, her band just broke up, and life could hardly be worse. Then, walking home through downtown Minneapolis on a dark night, she finds herself drafted into an invisible war between the faerie folk. Now, more than her own survival is at risk—and her own preferences, musical and personal, are very much beside the point. By turns tough and lyrical, fabulous and down-to-earth, War for the Oaks is a fantasy novel that's as much about this world as about the other one. It's about real love and loyalty, about real music and musicians, about false glamour and true art. It will change the way you hear and see your own daily life.


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Acclaimed by critics and readers on its first publication in 1987, winner of the Locus Award for Best First Novel, Emma Bull's War for the Oaks is one of the novels that has defined modern urban fantasy. Eddi McCandry sings rock and roll. But she's breaking up with her boyfriend, her band just broke up, and life could hardly be worse. Then, walking home through downtown Acclaimed by critics and readers on its first publication in 1987, winner of the Locus Award for Best First Novel, Emma Bull's War for the Oaks is one of the novels that has defined modern urban fantasy. Eddi McCandry sings rock and roll. But she's breaking up with her boyfriend, her band just broke up, and life could hardly be worse. Then, walking home through downtown Minneapolis on a dark night, she finds herself drafted into an invisible war between the faerie folk. Now, more than her own survival is at risk—and her own preferences, musical and personal, are very much beside the point. By turns tough and lyrical, fabulous and down-to-earth, War for the Oaks is a fantasy novel that's as much about this world as about the other one. It's about real love and loyalty, about real music and musicians, about false glamour and true art. It will change the way you hear and see your own daily life.

30 review for War for the Oaks

  1. 4 out of 5

    Felicia

    Oops I was browsing the "recommended because of your shelf" listings and I noticed that this book was not on my lists?! In fact, not on my FAVORITE SHELVES list? I've read it about 4 times so GET ON MY SHELF! This book was written years before the trend of "paranormal romance faerie crossing into urban environment" became commonplace. If you want to see one of the books that probably helped start ALL this paranormal stuff, here it is. GREAT book for girls and boys alike. I have it in 3 different Oops I was browsing the "recommended because of your shelf" listings and I noticed that this book was not on my lists?! In fact, not on my FAVORITE SHELVES list? I've read it about 4 times so GET ON MY SHELF! This book was written years before the trend of "paranormal romance faerie crossing into urban environment" became commonplace. If you want to see one of the books that probably helped start ALL this paranormal stuff, here it is. GREAT book for girls and boys alike. I have it in 3 different versions, one day I'll get it signed :)

  2. 5 out of 5

    ✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)

    💀 DNF at 44%. Lets see, what can I tell you about this wonderfully captivating book, apart from the fact that its supposed to be a pioneer of the Urban Fantasy genre? (view spoiler)[ Im assuming that whoever said this didnt have that kind of pioneer in mind when they made that particularly canny assertion. Then again, who knows? (hide spoiler)] Well, I guess I could start by telling you thats its boring as fish. Not sure what I found most sleep-inducing in this slightly very NOT engrossing story, 💀 DNF at 44%. Let’s see, what can I tell you about this wonderfully captivating book, apart from the fact that it’s supposed to be a pioneer of the Urban Fantasy genre? (view spoiler)[ I’m assuming that whoever said this didn’t have that kind of pioneer in mind when they made that particularly canny assertion. Then again, who knows? (hide spoiler)] Well, I guess I could start by telling you that’s it’s boring as fish. Not sure what I found most sleep-inducing in this slightly very NOT engrossing story, to be honest: the painstakingly detailed music/band-related stuff, the constant use of appalling song lyrics as filler material (yay!), the positively gripping details about the MC’s fantastically thrilling life (the remarkably entertaining tale about her going bike shopping brought back fond memories of Cal Leandros' utterly gripping car-related problems in Nightlife), or, in grand PNR style, the marvellously abundant, delightfully informative (if a teensy little bit pointless) clothes description (“tight black jeans that bring color to the room,” (view spoiler)[🙄🙄 (hide spoiler)] yay!). You sure got that right, Bertie dear. Some ridiculous eccentric authors would have chosen to focus on the Fantasy aspect of their Urban Fantasy story, but Emma Bull obviously knew better than to fall into this nefarious trap when she wrote the book. Why get lost in such futile musings when you can fill three quarters (and a half) of your story with a Big Fat Nothing (BFN™)? Why lose time explaining why the silly fae chose to involve your attractive, slender, clear-skinned, blonde MC (view spoiler)[🙄🙄 (hide spoiler)] in their war, what the stinking shrimp said MC’s role in said war is supposed to be, or what the bloody fishing hell said war is about, when you can go on and on and on (view spoiler)[and on and on and on (hide spoiler)] about Magnificently Mundane Stuff (MMS™)? Yes, why indeed. (view spoiler)[ (hide spoiler)] And you don’t want to get me started on the despicably bland, abominably unemotional writing (I suspect the story was drafted by an apathetic barnacle with lethargic tendencies). Or on the slightly horrific pacing. Or on the somewhat soporific plot. Or on the flat as fish characters (they put my favorite herd of ironing boards to shame, which is saying something). Or on the author using song titles as chapter headers. I mean, really. What are we, eleven and a half? ➽ Nefarious Last Words (NLW™): I skimmed through read 44% of this book and still have no bloody shrimping idea what oaks have to do with anything. Which is quite outrageous, if you ask me. (view spoiler)[ (hide spoiler)] [Pre-review nonsense] Well that was utterly fascinating. ➽ Full review to come and stuff.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sandi

    I didn't know what to expect when I ordered a copy of War for the Oaks for one of my GoodReads group. Right now, I have way too many books to read and not enough time to read them. I certainly didn't expect that I'd find a book that I had a hard time putting down and ended up finishing in two days. As I understand it, War for the Oaks is an early example of urban fantasy. What wonderful urban fantasy it was. I loved the adventure and romanticism, the music and the fairies (don't call them that). I didn't know what to expect when I ordered a copy of War for the Oaks for one of my GoodReads group. Right now, I have way too many books to read and not enough time to read them. I certainly didn't expect that I'd find a book that I had a hard time putting down and ended up finishing in two days. As I understand it, War for the Oaks is an early example of urban fantasy. What wonderful urban fantasy it was. I loved the adventure and romanticism, the music and the fairies (don't call them that). Popular music plays a central role in this book. I've read quite a few books that try to integrate rock & roll, but they usually end up being really, really cheesy and imbued with that "isn't it cool to be a rock star" tone. In this case, music and the rock scene is simply a part of Eddi's life and Ms. Bull handles it very well. A few things do make the story a bit dated, like some clothing descriptions and the constant references to how hot Prince is. (I never thought he was.) But, most of the story manages to avoid most things that would make it seem exceptionally dated. Now, it's really possible that this book doesn't deserve five stars. In fact it's quite likely it doesn't. But, I gave it the highest rating because I loved it and it was great escapism. One warning: this is chick lit. I can't see much here that would appeal to most guys. But, I'm a girl and I liked it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Aubrey

    Urban fantasy was my drug of choice in high school. Before Goodreads and phenomenal English teachers took their toll on my ignorant bliss, I was perfectly content to base my reading choices on cover designs and dust jacket flaps, the key to my satisfactions being that perfect blend of concrete grit and fantastical malevolence. My tastes will never return to that simplicity, but rather than using that as a reason for forgoing the genre entirely, I chose to feed a favorable looking work to my far Urban fantasy was my drug of choice in high school. Before Goodreads and phenomenal English teachers took their toll on my ignorant bliss, I was perfectly content to base my reading choices on cover designs and dust jacket flaps, the key to my satisfactions being that perfect blend of concrete grit and fantastical malevolence. My tastes will never return to that simplicity, but rather than using that as a reason for forgoing the genre entirely, I chose to feed a favorable looking work to my far more complex quotas. At best, I'd be pleasantly surprised. At worst, my critiquing skills would be left thoroughly honed. Either way, I was confident I'd enjoy myself, on the knee jerk gut level if nothing else. I was right about the enjoyment part. However much I complain about stock plots and character tropes and the all too common utilization of burgeoning romance to drive the narrative and stopping just before commitment and faithfulness and all that uglier relationship jazz kicks in (love is so unsexy when it lasts forever on), it wasn't too long ago that I flat out enjoyed such things with nary a quibble. Also, I am such a sucker for snark it's embarrassing, and this book reveled in it. What I didn't expect is to find a perfect example of feminism in all its imperfections. Here we have a female character slam dunking the Bechdel test, but pinning all the real worth and character development on the way men perceive her. She promotes understanding and nonviolence, but only when provoked by external circumstances in a very level-up Mary Sue manner (fits every situation once the situation reveals itself in a dramatic enough manner). Persons of color exist, but so does a great deal of casual racism, culminating in an endnote describing the author adapting the book for a movie and choosing to cut one of the persons of color in favor of expanding two white male character narratives (predictable culmination, anyone?). In short, female solidarity is actively developed (the book flat out talks about women's rights at one point), but there is no application of lessons learned in the development process to everyone else. Also, violence accepted as comeuppance for breaking up with a man. Ugh. As for everything else. The fantasy was handled well, but compared to Clarke's complete and utter revitalization of the mythos in Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, there was nothing new to be found. Also worthy of mention is the fact that the '80's were before my time, so all accompanying references went over my head and had no favorable impact on my enjoyment. The Robert Jordan Syndrome, aka spending sizable paragraphs laying out character's outfits every few pages, a list description method that was applied to anything worthy of visualization to a frustratingly banal degree, didn't help either. I did laugh, though. That's always good.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mimi

    So this is the book that kicked off Urban Fantasy? It was OK, just OK. The narration is somewhat annoying, which makes the characters somewhat annoying, but the action sequences make up for that. I can't fault this book too much, though, since it's the first its kind and therefore, like most pioneering writing pieces, reads more like a lengthy writing exercise than a book. The story is about a young woman with great musical aspirations--she wants to start her own bandwho stumbles across a fae So this is the book that kicked off Urban Fantasy? It was OK, just OK. The narration is somewhat annoying, which makes the characters somewhat annoying, but the action sequences make up for that. I can't fault this book too much, though, since it's the first its kind and therefore, like most pioneering writing pieces, reads more like a lengthy writing exercise than a book. The story is about a young woman with great musical aspirations--she wants to start her own band—who stumbles across a fae war and gets recruited. She does get to put a band together all the while helping her fae "friends" take back—and this is where I can't stop laughing—Minnehaha Falls for the fae court. It's one thing to read about other cities getting bombarded with and pillaged by otherworldly creatures, but it's another thing entirely to read about your own hometown as a battleground. Since I mostly read stories set in far off places (and imaginary worlds), it's a little unsettling—in a good way—to dive into a book that features Minneapolis... as a secondary character. I would have to say the experience is similar to a mild episode of meta-awareness; you know you're reading, but you can't believe you recognize every landmark (and street corner) in the book. Who woulda thunk Nicollet Mall is actually a bridge between our world and the fae's? Or that fae factions used to duke it out every night right across the street from where I used to live? Urban fantasy has come so far from its origins that reading this book is like examining a piece of relic recently unearthed from some lost burial ground. It's always interesting to read the book that started it all.

  6. 4 out of 5

    The Flooze

    War for the Oaks has the distinction of helping mold the subgenre of urban fantasy. Since Ive already tackled many (many) UF titles, that particular context is lost on me. What cant be denied, however, is Emma Bulls talent. War for the Oaks is an excellent example of everything Ive come to love about the fusion of modernity and magic. The main character, Eddi McCandry, is a blend of all we hope for in a heroine. In the beginning she exhibits a bit of poor judgment and has a tendency to War for the Oaks has the distinction of helping mold the subgenre of urban fantasy. Since I’ve already tackled many (many) UF titles, that particular context is lost on me. What can’t be denied, however, is Emma Bull’s talent. War for the Oaks is an excellent example of everything I’ve come to love about the fusion of modernity and magic. The main character, Eddi McCandry, is a blend of all we hope for in a heroine. In the beginning she exhibits a bit of poor judgment and has a tendency to underestimate herself, but over the course of the book she grows and learns. We come to see her as a straight-shooter with an abundance of fierce determination, a woman who tries to fight for what’s right and inspires those around her to do the same. She’s a likeable character and a true friend, a person who believes in free will and accepting consequences. The characters surrounding her are each notable in their own ways, but none moreso than the Phouka. Assigned as her bodyguard, he’s often mischief made real - but it’s clear from the beginning that there’s a lot more to him than clever quips and keen fighting skills. He’s enigmatic and eccentric, but endearing; it’s easy to share in Eddi’s growing trust in him. Many of the powers of the Fae are not clearly defined; Bull picks and chooses which rules to share, so the plot can glide along without the burden of weighty details. She demonstrates respect towards her readers, trusting that we are intelligent enough to pick things up along the way. In light of all the clue-by-fours and info dumps I’ve been subjected to lately, I’m immensely grateful for her polished method of delivery. (I do wonder how this came across to the audience of 1987. Bull uses much of the Fae lore we now find commonplace: the Sidhe lords, the Seelie and Unseelie Courts, the Lady vs. the Queen of Air and Darkness, the talent of twisting the truth yet never lying. Today’s UF readers are accustomed to these beings and the basic rules that govern them. Would this have seemed more ground-breaking, perhaps more confusing, to her initial readers?) Bull’s writing style is pleasant. It’s lyrical and fluid, but never flowery or overcomplicated. Her analogies are marvelous - almost undetectable as they cast the desired atmosphere over a scene. They evoke sensory experiences, drawing us fully into Eddi’s perception and fostering a connection with the settings and characters. Bull understands that small details are often the most significant. She uses this knowledge to greatest effect when describing how two people fall in love: through moments of stillness and unconscious gestures, she recounts the many tiny thrills along the way. This leads to one of my favorite passages: “Every motion she made was slow, as if she’d never before put her arms around a man, and didn’t know for certain where everything fit. When at last they were pressed close, she didn’t think she’d know how to let go when the time came. They summarized the course of passion with kisses: a chaste, half-frightened brush of the lips metamorphosed into something fierce and fast-burning, which in its turn became a more patient, more intimate touch, full of inquiry and shared pleasure.” It’s romance that a person who’s experienced love can relate to. It’s the hesitancy and wonder that washes over us in that moment we decide, “yes…this is the one.” To capture it in such a way makes it all the more sweet and realistic. This down-to-earth style is a defining aspect of the book…which is why I have one complaint about the ending. While every proceeding scene - even those dealing with Fae illusion - is so straight-forward and comprehensible, the final battle lapses into the abstract. We understand what’s happening in the larger scheme, but the particulars are lost amid the frenzy of magic. Having felt so connected to the action until this point, it came as an unpleasant shock to suddenly feel distant from events. I’m not sure if this indicates a hasty wrap-up, or merely my own inability to relate to what Eddi experiences. I wasn’t dissatisfied, but the scene didn’t mesh perfectly with the rest of the story. That one criticism aside, War for the Oaks is a well-executed book. It’s easy to see how its release in the late 80s would have encouraged acknowledgement of the urban fantasy subgenre. Reading it now, 24 years(!) after it was first published, it doesn’t feel particularly dated (even some of the clothes are back in fashion again). Instead, it’s as thrilling a stand-alone as any current title, with an effortless poetic slant and a fluidity that’s missing from many of today’s debuts. It’s touted as an urban fantasy classic - it’s more than deserving of the label.

  7. 5 out of 5

    JM

    Adult fey urban fantasy. Eddi, a singer/electric guitarist living in Minneapolis, finds herself chosen by the Seelie Court for a job nobody would be especially keen on: the Seelie and Unseelie Courts, whose queens are resident in Minneapolis for reasons that are never quite addressed, are declaring a war for the city. They need a mortal to make the stakes mortal ones. This is a classic of the genre. I read it immediately after Robin McKinley's Sunshine, which frustrated me to pieces, and my first Adult fey urban fantasy. Eddi, a singer/electric guitarist living in Minneapolis, finds herself chosen by the Seelie Court for a job nobody would be especially keen on: the Seelie and Unseelie Courts, whose queens are resident in Minneapolis for reasons that are never quite addressed, are declaring a war for the city. They need a mortal to make the stakes mortal ones. This is a classic of the genre. I read it immediately after Robin McKinley's Sunshine, which frustrated me to pieces, and my first reaction to this was: Oh thank god, yay. It has a lot of elements that are simply awesome. The Phouka is a really fantastic character, especially in his early scenes, and the descriptions of the fey folk themselves are lively and convincing and imaginative. Possibly the best thing about the book is the use of music, though. Eddi's band is central to the action and ultimately to the plot, and the most powerful scenes are the ones in which they're playing and Eddi's feeling the chords slide and wail around her. It's tricky to infuse a written work with a sense of music, the emotions and the sounds-as-images, so I have huge respect for the way Bull pulled it off. But ultimately this book wasn't as successful as I wanted it to be. The main reason is, again, the main character. Everybody around her believes that Eddi has something special, she's electric and charismatic and no wonder the fey folk chose her. But Bull never really managed to convey that electricity and charisma. Eddi drives a good bit of the plot, she's not a passive presence, but she's simply not very compelling as a protagonist. Except when she's playing, and even then it's more that she lets us inside the dynamic of the band. The other problem I had was with the stakes. I didn't really care about the outcome of the faerie war. The battle scenes didn't catch me up. At the end something happens to make this battle personal - one of the central characters is in danger. But ... I didn't care about that character either. They weren't introduced in an especially sympathetic way, and they were never developed enough to make up for it. What really drove the story wasn't the faery war, but the romance. The romance is resolved about two thirds of the way through, though, and after that ... well, I finished the book, and I enjoyed the descriptions and the little details of the world, but I wasn't invested much.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Part of the problem might be that I went into this book with unrealistically high expectations. Id been aware of War for the Oaks for a long time before reading it, and I knew it was considered an influential classic of the Urban Fantasy genre. Because of this, Id already (perhaps unfairly) assigned it some kind of legendary status in my mind. But, just because something is among the first doesnt mean it is among the best; after finishing this, I was left feeling underwhelmed. The book certainly Part of the problem might be that I went into this book with unrealistically high expectations. I’d been aware of War for the Oaks for a long time before reading it, and I knew it was considered an influential classic of the Urban Fantasy genre. Because of this, I’d already (perhaps unfairly) assigned it some kind of legendary status in my mind. But, just because something is among the first doesn’t mean it is among the best; after finishing this, I was left feeling underwhelmed. The book certainly does have its good points. The music scene backdrop was fun and at times refreshing; the Fae had an otherworldly feel to them which was interesting to read about; and the prose itself was skillfully written. But for me, it always comes down to the characters. I couldn’t feel any attachment to them… and therefore I had no emotional engagement whatsoever with this book. I also felt the novel was really slowly-paced. This isn’t always a bad thing depending on the story, but in this case it often seemed like a chore just to push through to the next chapter. This might be excellent for the right reader, but it wasn’t for me. I’m glad I read it though, if only as a historical entry in exploring the roots of Urban Fantasy.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    This book has been popping up on my Amazon recommendations list for probably a year now. That, combined with the fact that there's a quote on front in which Neil Gaiman states, "Emma Bull is really good" (which may seem scant praise, but is everything to a Gaiman fan), I finally decided to just go ahead and order it. After reading it, I concur with Mr. Gaiman--Emma Bull is really good. An urban fantasy set in the 1980's, Bull takes full advantage of the time period by showcasing the music and This book has been popping up on my Amazon recommendations list for probably a year now. That, combined with the fact that there's a quote on front in which Neil Gaiman states, "Emma Bull is really good" (which may seem scant praise, but is everything to a Gaiman fan), I finally decided to just go ahead and order it. After reading it, I concur with Mr. Gaiman--Emma Bull is really good. An urban fantasy set in the 1980's, Bull takes full advantage of the time period by showcasing the music and the lavish, ridiculously wonderful over-the-top 1980's clothing (really, other than perhaps the Glam Rock period of the 1970's, there's no other time period in which a story such as this would work to such effect). Eddi is a musician chosen by the fey to be the mortal who will bring death to the battlefield in the Seelie Court's battle against the Unseelie Court (who will bring darkness and gloom to the city should they triumph). Bull draws heavily on the folktales of Ireland and Scotland and her faeries are wonderful creatures--seldom completely good or evil, but always looking to bend events to their favor with no regard to the consequences brought upon others. My favorites include Hairy Meg (a brownie from Scotland who brought her thick brogue and cantankerous temper with her) and the hilariously mischievous phouka who serves as Eddi's bodyguard. You can practically see these faeries as they may have been imagined by Jim Henson or Brian Froud. Overall, my only criticism is that the ending seemed a little anticlimatic (it did seem a little too easy to defeat the Queen of Air and Darkness) and shifts in time periods weren't always made clear. Other than that, an excellent book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nicky

    Reading this was like meeting the grandmother of October Daye and Kate Daniels. Knowing it was one of the early books to really make urban fantasy a thing, per Naomi Aldermans introduction, its amazing how fresh it must have felt back then it stood up pretty well now, but I found some aspects of it predictable because I know later books in the genre. So many of the elements were in place as far back as this. I had a lot of fun, and the descriptions of Eddis band and the way they play, the fun Reading this was like meeting the grandmother of October Daye and Kate Daniels. Knowing it was one of the early books to really make urban fantasy a thing, per Naomi Alderman’s introduction, it’s amazing how fresh it must have felt back then — it stood up pretty well now, but I found some aspects of it predictable because I know later books in the genre. So many of the elements were in place as far back as this. I had a lot of fun, and the descriptions of Eddi’s band and the way they play, the fun they have, are really infectious. It’s surprisingly vivid, even for me (and I don’t have a visual imagination at all!). Likewise, the plot with Faerie and even the character arc of the phouka are all fairly obvious if you’ve been hanging around in urban fantasy — but it’s still well done and Bull does a great job of making her faeries genuinely strange, genuinely different to the humans they interact with. All in all, a lot of fun, and I recommend it, especially for those who enjoy urban fantasy, but not only for them!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Siria

    This book is a very strong argument as to why frequent, extended descriptions of what the characters are wearing is a bad idea: not only is it unnecessary, a lot of the time, but it makes the book feel very dated. The fact that the descriptions are of what was fashionable in the late Eighties is even worse: people actually wore that? With shoulder-pads? Oh my. Similarly: ixnay on the awful rock lyrics. Anyway, I read War for the Oaks because I had heard so many people describe it as a classic of This book is a very strong argument as to why frequent, extended descriptions of what the characters are wearing is a bad idea: not only is it unnecessary, a lot of the time, but it makes the book feel very dated. The fact that the descriptions are of what was fashionable in the late Eighties is even worse: people actually wore that? With shoulder-pads? Oh my. Similarly: ixnay on the awful rock lyrics. Anyway, I read War for the Oaks because I had heard so many people describe it as a classic of the genre. Liked the Phouka a lot, didn't mind Eddi overly much (she wasn't annoying, though her increasingly Mary Sue qualities made me roll my eyes just a bit as the book progressed), thought their eventual romance made things a bit too treacly. It was certainly enjoyable, and a quick read, but I don't think I'd call it a classic—perhaps more of a pioneer? I've read things by, say, Gaiman, who have taken on the same themes and roughly the same settings, and haven't left me feeling frustrated by things left hinted at or never explored. (Why the hell have two European fairy courts taken up residence in Minneapolis, of all places? What happened to the native magic of the place? Because I can't imagine it not having an existence before us white folks.)

  12. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Apparently a debut novel by the author. Apparently, too, an early (1987) entry in the Urban Fantasy genre. Brilliant in many ways. Creative. Exciting. Thought-provoking. Fun, and sometimes funny, With some romance, some heavy-duty magical battles, and lots and lots of music. And lots of Minneapolis. Eddi is a strong woman in many ways. She knows how to lead a band, to ride a motorcycle, to buck tradition, to kick ass, to date on her own terms. She's almost too good to be true but moments of Apparently a debut novel by the author. Apparently, too, an early (1987) entry in the Urban Fantasy genre. Brilliant in many ways. Creative. Exciting. Thought-provoking. Fun, and sometimes funny, With some romance, some heavy-duty magical battles, and lots and lots of music. And lots of Minneapolis. Eddi is a strong woman in many ways. She knows how to lead a band, to ride a motorcycle, to buck tradition, to kick ass, to date on her own terms. She's almost too good to be true but moments of vulnerability made this reader believe in her, and love her. Perfect, imo, for this new "New Adult" classification in that it's a bit like a YA book but more interesting than most of those. The characters are in their 20s, mostly. Lots of descriptions of wonderful fashion choices. Just one thing about the blurb on the back of the edition that I read. where it says "her boyfriend just dumped her" it is so wrong it's not funny. I think some male chauvinist must have written that bit! (And I see that the GR blurb has that, too; I'll have to fix that.) (Read for a Strong Women challenge.)

  13. 4 out of 5

    Vered

    Yep, still excellent! With it's wit, warmth, great characters and a story that gets you hooked, instantly. Faeries, a chosen mortal, a fight between good (of sort) and evil, a lot of Rock'n'Roll and one sexy, irresistible Phouka. I love it! b/w the book was written in the 80's. References, clothes, songs. A trip down memory lane :)

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    This is the way writing should be -- clear, lyrical, smooth. A tight plot that still leaves plenty of room for character development. An "off-the-bookshelf" Monopoly move. SRC 2018 'TUM' (Fall) Task 15.3 Let's Play! Title initials found in "sTar Wars actiOn Figures" Author initials found in "Easy-Bake oven" (Did not check for other possible tasks)

  15. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    It is astonishing to think that Minneapolis was the center of the Faerie world in 1987. Who would of thought?!? And yet, Emma Bulls absorbing novel provides eloquent testimony to the centrality of the City of Lakes to the Fey World. Undoubtedly there is some important event that transpired in the next decade, since by 2000 the Dresden Files are evidence that Chicago is the place to be.                             I didnt realize for a while that this book was written so long ago. I was enjoying It is astonishing to think that Minneapolis was the center of the Faerie world in 1987. Who would of thought?!? And yet, Emma Bull’s absorbing novel provides eloquent testimony to the centrality of the City of Lakes to the Fey World. Undoubtedly there is some important event that transpired in the next decade, since by 2000 the Dresden Files are evidence that Chicago is the place to be.             •         •        • I didn’t realize for a while that this book was written so long ago. I was enjoying the retro nature of the bands mentioned and the clothing styles, but then suddenly realized a character had just ducked into a phone booth. How quaint! Oh: no cell phones, no computers, and despite this being a rock ‘n’ roll band story, somehow the whole grunge movement never got mentioned? Finally, I looked at the publication date and realized why half the references were to punk and the other half to the new romantics. (But no Adam and the Ants. Quite surprising.) All the male faeries are described like they stepped out of a Prince music video, and the lead character apparently dresses like Stevie Nicks. In any event, War for the Oaks is an excellent urban fantasy. Strongly recommended.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    First half two stars, second half four stars. I am definitely not the target audience for this. I don't like UF, I don't like faeries, and... I thought the music would be a saving grace because that's something I do love, but I still wasn't really getting into that portion. A friend pointed out to me that this was sort of the first UF written. Looking at it from that perspective, and from the very important perspective that this was written in the 80s, things finally started clicking for me. The First half two stars, second half four stars. I am definitely not the target audience for this. I don't like UF, I don't like faeries, and... I thought the music would be a saving grace because that's something I do love, but I still wasn't really getting into that portion. A friend pointed out to me that this was sort of the first UF written. Looking at it from that perspective, and from the very important perspective that this was written in the 80s, things finally started clicking for me. The second half was quite good. The interesting thing about this was that there wasn't one single actual plot twist that surprised me. Where the book was strongest was the novel setting and the way that music became such an integral part of the overall story. And is there anything more appropriate to use in a modern tale of humans and fae? Music and dancing?

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

    4.5 stars I understand this book was a pioneer in the urban fantasy world. One could only wish that the subsequent urban fantasy was as good. At first it felt tired and old hat to me, but gradually, Emma Bull's world and characters began to build and before you know it, I was enchanted. It's a tour de force of music, magic, honor, courage, and love. The Pouka is the most endearing and lovable character I've come across in a long time. Eddi's character gradually develops depth and the story takes 4.5 stars I understand this book was a pioneer in the urban fantasy world. One could only wish that the subsequent urban fantasy was as good. At first it felt tired and old hat to me, but gradually, Emma Bull's world and characters began to build and before you know it, I was enchanted. It's a tour de force of music, magic, honor, courage, and love. The Pouka is the most endearing and lovable character I've come across in a long time. Eddi's character gradually develops depth and the story takes off. The peripheral characters are delightful. Willy Silver is a true tragic hero. I'm smiling and happy.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Erika Gill

    I wish I understood the hype this book has commanded for over twenty years, but I can't. I also wish I'd heard of at least half of the songs mentioned (stuffed, more like) in it. Unfortunately, Emma Bull was under the impression that the more contemporary hip iconic culture she shoved down the throats of her readers, the better it would be. In doing this, and shamelessly using her own (poor) lyrics as filler, she managed to completely neglect her writing. I can't even recall how many times I had I wish I understood the hype this book has commanded for over twenty years, but I can't. I also wish I'd heard of at least half of the songs mentioned (stuffed, more like) in it. Unfortunately, Emma Bull was under the impression that the more contemporary hip iconic culture she shoved down the throats of her readers, the better it would be. In doing this, and shamelessly using her own (poor) lyrics as filler, she managed to completely neglect her writing. I can't even recall how many times I had to exclaim "REALLY?" before I lost my voice to disgust and just started gagging. Probably right around the point where Carla, a completely flat character seemingly designed by a schizophrenic, says "No one is cuter than Prince." Or maybe it was Eddi who said that. Whatever, the two were completely interchangeable, which is made worse by the fact that Eddi is THE MFING PROTAGONIST. Gahh!!! Whyyy????? So...painfully...bad. DO NOT get me started on the phouka's dialog. Or the extensive descriptions of his (and everyone's) clothes (WTF, even 80s doesn't explain that away) and his hair, which, from the repetitive and unimaginative description was obviously a Jheri curl. Don't get me wrong, I can totally see the influence this book had on fantasy, and am willing to accept that it is a pioneer of the urban fantasy sub-genre, but I can only praise subsequent writers for redeeming it from the awful depths War for the Oaks set it at. Even writers like Laurell K. Hamilton, who can at least make the outfits easy to envision (that is not an endorsement of rabid "let's get dressed up!" chapters in fantasy).

  19. 5 out of 5

    Randall

    It gets a star because I finished it. Don't read this book. A mix between fantasy and a rock novel incorporating the worst aspects of both genres with an inability to compose a coherent action sequence.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mariel

    Neil Gaiman's quote on the book jacket for The War for the Oaks reads: "Emma Bull is really good." I'm with Mr. Gaiman. Good, but not great. I'm not in one of my miserly moods, I swear. The heroine, Eddi, has her own kind of magic that comes from her stage presence when she's playing with her band. Shouldn't she have been more, well, charismatic? I liked a lot all of the parts when they are putting together their new band. Those were really good (again!) life stuff. But what about Eddi? After a Neil Gaiman's quote on the book jacket for The War for the Oaks reads: "Emma Bull is really good." I'm with Mr. Gaiman. Good, but not great. I'm not in one of my miserly moods, I swear. The heroine, Eddi, has her own kind of magic that comes from her stage presence when she's playing with her band. Shouldn't she have been more, well, charismatic? I liked a lot all of the parts when they are putting together their new band. Those were really good (again!) life stuff. But what about Eddi? After a whole book I feel like I should have felt like I knew her. I didn't. All I really know about her is that she has a vague sense of morality and puts together nice outfits (if I were girlier this would have been more interesting to me. All I really thought about it was that they didn't seem dated). Guys and audiences alike fall in love with her. Why? Make me fall in love too, Bull. I'm not being a Bully! (hahahah. Stop it, Mar.) The only thing that dates this book in 1987 are the references to Prince. I would say it is dated on the relevance scale. Young me might have only cared that a bland and easy-to-impose-oneself-on heroine found love and her dream job, and that all was right with the world again. Now I've gotta think: is that all? Eddi is chosen by the fae to bring to their war a to-the-death ability. She's chosen because the phouka (it isn't a spoiler to name him as the love interest. I called that from the moment he appeared) feels she's got her own magic from her art. The sidhe have lorded their lordliness over the lesser fae, and he's tired of it. After the war with the unseelie is over he wants to ensure they'll have a seelie to preserve. He feels that Eddi is the figurehead for the job, that the majority would rally behind her as something new. (It was annoying any time that anyone compared their leaders to the supposedly better mortal leaders. Right. No one has ever had any permanently good ideas.) But this isn't about art, love and death, or valour and honour. Not really. It's a little too much about how awesome Eddi is. It is a shame that the story never really took off from under the spotlight on the stage. The War for the Oaks is the "first urban fantasy" novel, depending on who you ask. Some give credit to Charles deLint (Bull's book is MUCH better than DeLints magic and fae book, the Little Country. Talk about your the world is one girl's stage stories!). At least Bull's book makes it nearly to the end before I started getting impatient. This "first" business is (to me) like the debate of who wrote the first story with robots (some say it is The Wizard of Oz) or the first mystery (some say it is Wilkie Collins's snooze-fest, The Moonstone). I'm reading it now. I don't care if David Bowie borrowed or if anyone borrowed from The Pixies, etc. etc. All I care about is if it is awesome. This is good but not awesome. The Good Fairies of New York is awesome. (Not everyone agrees with this. I love it for the qualities that irritated others. It is punk rock! And rock 'n' roll. Fight to the death for love and freedom! I want messiness. If it matters it is.) I was bored with the book by the end and didn't care to read the script sample from Bull and her husband for a movie version of The War for the Oaks. What it really needs is a great star to play Eddi. The most interesting thing about her cannot be how she wears her clothes! Also, reading about music would be boring for those without the frame of reference. I did know about a lot of those '80s bands (not that I'm bragging. I know about '80s bands and not much else). Unfortunately, a lot of them were '80s bands I am now wondering why the hell I liked them. The Psychedelic Furs? Why, Mariel, why? Same goes for Love and Rockets (I loved the nod to the comics. Eddi wanted to name their band that after the comics. I wonder if they'd have given credit to the Hernandez bros, as the real band Love and Rockets did not). I imagine a movie version would be like Times Square or Bandits. Or maybe Nana. I could think of more. I'll stop now.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Eilonwy

    This book was shelved in the YA section at my library -- but I honestly can't figure out why it's there. This is clearly a book for adults, about adults doing mostly adult things (although I suppose you can argue that someone fronting a rock band might be viewed by many people as trying to live an extended teenage existence). Is there an assumption that urban fantasy is all for teenagers, or what? I think it would make more sense for teens to have to go fetch this out of the adult fantasy This book was shelved in the YA section at my library -- but I honestly can't figure out why it's there. This is clearly a book for adults, about adults doing mostly adult things (although I suppose you can argue that someone fronting a rock band might be viewed by many people as trying to live an extended teenage existence). Is there an assumption that urban fantasy is all for teenagers, or what? I think it would make more sense for teens to have to go fetch this out of the adult fantasy section, than vice versa. That said, this was a very good read that could be enjoyed by anyone 14 and up, IMO. The story line is both suspenseful and humorous, and I loved every word of it. Eddi is an engaging POV character who reacts completely normally to being informed that she's been pulled into a crazy faery war without being asked (that is, she does not take to the idea easily). The phouka really grew on me as the book progressed, moving from annoying to adorable (plus he's supposed to be "even cuter than Prince", circa 1985 -- which was pretty darned cute), and the other characters were all well-developed and believable as well. There was a bit of paranormal romance, and it was a nice change for me to read a book where the participants were grown-ups, who didn't feel they had to be each other's All-in-All or One-and-Only's or anything -- they were able to accept that they were going to have a good time together for a while, without having to make any kind of a big deal out of it. I found that really refreshing -- I'm somewhat distressed by the idea at the end of most teenage paranormal romances that one's whole life has to be all tied up and settled by the age of 18 or so.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Chadwick

    This book is probably pretty awesome if you are a 14 year-old girl with black nail polish. For me though, the only reason I'm giving it two stars rather than none is a sort of sweet enthusiasm for her characters and theme that the author manages to project, despite her crap hand with plot and characterization. It's a novel of fairy (faeraiye? Doesn't it seem that the blacker the nail polish, the more vowels should go in that word?) warfare, with a rock-n-rollin' Minnesotan named Eddi as the This book is probably pretty awesome if you are a 14 year-old girl with black nail polish. For me though, the only reason I'm giving it two stars rather than none is a sort of sweet enthusiasm for her characters and theme that the author manages to project, despite her crap hand with plot and characterization. It's a novel of fairy (faeraiye? Doesn't it seem that the blacker the nail polish, the more vowels should go in that word?) warfare, with a rock-n-rollin' Minnesotan named Eddi as the mortal lynchpin for the good guys. Along the way, a pooka gets screwed, some awful 80s rock lyrics are suffered through while all the while no character really does anything that makes sense. Motivations and character development are really arbitrary, and exactly what the protagonist lends to her supernatural allies is completely uncertain. The fetishistic detailing of Eddi's outfits, and of her band's Awesome Gear! is tedious, and gives the whole project a pall of wish-fulfillment fantasy, which is totally fine, but doesn't really appeal to me. Which really means that I should not pick up books that Neil Gaiman says are great. Or I should start wearing fishnets on my arms and see if anything changes.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sherwood Smith

    This is, I believe, the book that kicked off the "using music against the Sidhe" subgenre that became so popular through the nineties. When I first read it, I wondered if the influence had been Elizabeth Marie Pope's The Perilous Garde--the idea of women writers catching, adding their own grace notes, and passing on ideas being exemplified so very well here.

  24. 5 out of 5

    JG (Introverted Reader)

    Eddi McCandry is a rocker with a big heart. She attracts the attention of the Seelie Court and her life is turned upside down. I absolutely loved this. If you know me, and maybe if you don't, you know that Charles de Lint is my favorite author. This is something very much in the same vein as de Lint's best work. I don't mean that it's a knockoff, it's just something that I enjoyed for a lot of the same reasons that I enjoy de Lint. These characters were awesome. They're people (or not) that I Eddi McCandry is a rocker with a big heart. She attracts the attention of the Seelie Court and her life is turned upside down. I absolutely loved this. If you know me, and maybe if you don't, you know that Charles de Lint is my favorite author. This is something very much in the same vein as de Lint's best work. I don't mean that it's a knockoff, it's just something that I enjoyed for a lot of the same reasons that I enjoy de Lint. These characters were awesome. They're people (or not) that I would love to know in real life. Eddi is a talented, creative musician with a true gift. She's not perfect, but she's big enough to apologize when it's necessary. She can take charge when that's necessary too. She gives her all for her friends and refuses to give up even when everyone else is telling her that what she wants to do is impossible. Her friend Carla is much the same way, except possibly even more loyal and more likely to give her friends a figurative kick in the pants when they need it. Willy, oh Willy. What a heart breaker. And that's all I'll say about him. But the star of the show is the Phouka. Can you say book crush? He's funny, sarcastic, dashing, romantic, a rebel, strong, tough, just enough of a bad boy, and he's learning more about what it means to be human. I adored him. I wasn't too sure about him at first, but he grows throughout the book, and we get to know him better, and I was a fan for life by about the halfway point. Love him. Even aside from the characters, the story was a page-turner. I was supposed to be training a new employee as I read this, and he just would not stop talking. (Okay, I was not slacking. The guy was in his final week of training and he didn't need it. We had absolutely nothing to do. I had listened to his same stories umpteen times already. I wanted to get on with this story.) I managed to be polite and listen to him, but the whole time I was sitting there wondering what was going to happen next, hoping that the trainee would need a bathroom break soon and I could read a little more about what was going on with Eddi, the Phouka, and the Seelie Court. That's probably terrible to admit, but there you go. Read it when you won't be interrupted. :-) So, this is a new favorite. If you like fantasy and great characters, pick this up. You'll be sorry if you don't.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Trisha

    In my opinion, you really can't call yourself an Urban fantasy fan if you haven't read this book. This is one of, if not THE book that started it all. There are fairies (but don't call them that if you know what's good for you) of every shape and size, lust, love, rock n' roll and a war between Seelie and Unseelie courts- what more could you want? How about characters you care for almost instantly, magic that somehow makes sense even when it doesn't, and don't forget- the magic of music. This is In my opinion, you really can't call yourself an Urban fantasy fan if you haven't read this book. This is one of, if not THE book that started it all. There are fairies (but don't call them that if you know what's good for you) of every shape and size, lust, love, rock n' roll and a war between Seelie and Unseelie courts- what more could you want? How about characters you care for almost instantly, magic that somehow makes sense even when it doesn't, and don't forget- the magic of music. This is no cut and dry good vs. evil tale either, like all great urban fantasies it's a whole palette of shades of grey, although you do know who's side you come down on- it's not entirely ambivalent, like some of Caitlin R, Kiernan's work- but you definitely see the beauty in the darkness. And woven through it all is an honest to goodness amazing love story. So very highly recommended.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    In my mind, this novel is the forerunner to a variety of urban fantasy ventures that have been written since and gotten more attention (e.g. "American Gods"). It's the Led Zeppelin to Gaiman's AC/DC. Or something like that that makes more sense. As might be expected from a book that drips hip despite its pop culture references now being 20 years old, an allusion to Homestar Runner is one of my favorite ways to summarize it: "Faeries are dragging us into their bloody war!" "I don't want to take any In my mind, this novel is the forerunner to a variety of urban fantasy ventures that have been written since and gotten more attention (e.g. "American Gods"). It's the Led Zeppelin to Gaiman's AC/DC. Or something like that that makes more sense. As might be expected from a book that drips hip despite its pop culture references now being 20 years old, an allusion to Homestar Runner is one of my favorite ways to summarize it: "Faeries are dragging us into their bloody war!" "I don't want to take any chances. We should play in a band just to be safe." And that's precisely what the heroine, a down-on-her-luck guitar player/singer, does. The real magic in this book is not Faerie glamour but Bull's upper-echelon storytelling skills and otherworldly ability to make you like her characters. This book has a permanent place on my shelf and "reread periodically" status.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Collins

    Can Eddi and her new band save Minneapolis from the Unseelie Court? The Fey are not my favorite fantasy creatures, and this book got off to a weak start, but I was soon enjoying myself. This is described as "one of the pioneering works of urban fantasy". It was written as contemporary fiction in the 80's (our heroes are fond of vests, denim jackets and high-top sneakers) and features an out-of-work singer/guitarist who gets dragged into the middle of a Fairy war. She's guarded by a fabulous Can Eddi and her new band save Minneapolis from the Unseelie Court? The Fey are not my favorite fantasy creatures, and this book got off to a weak start, but I was soon enjoying myself. This is described as "one of the pioneering works of urban fantasy". It was written as contemporary fiction in the 80's (our heroes are fond of vests, denim jackets and high-top sneakers) and features an out-of-work singer/guitarist who gets dragged into the middle of a Fairy war. She's guarded by a fabulous phouka, seduced by a Fairy lord, and threatened by a variety of hostile, inhuman creatures. In the end she champions the Seelie Court with her magical music. It's all rather charming.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Allison Hurd

    Such a fun read. As someone in the center of the Venn diagram of "loves folk lore," "loves music," and "loves books," this was basically made for me. If you like badass urban fantasy with great tie ins to Celtic lore and have fond memories of going to shows, you really need to check this out. CONTENT WARNING: (view spoiler)[A man hits his girlfriend. There are brief depictions of war and death (hide spoiler)] Things to love: -The phouka. Yeah, I know Eddi is the main character, and she's pretty Such a fun read. As someone in the center of the Venn diagram of "loves folk lore," "loves music," and "loves books," this was basically made for me. If you like badass urban fantasy with great tie ins to Celtic lore and have fond memories of going to shows, you really need to check this out. CONTENT WARNING: (view spoiler)[A man hits his girlfriend. There are brief depictions of war and death (hide spoiler)] Things to love: -The phouka. Yeah, I know Eddi is the main character, and she's pretty great. But she's not the cheeky, chivalrous, mercurial phouka. I don't often love shifters. I'm making an enormous exception for him. Please to give him his own book. kthx. -The band and music. It makes me want to book a gig even though I don't have a band. It makes me want to jam and/or go to a concert. I absolutely adored explaining the "it" factor that the best leads and epic bands have live as faerie magic. That je ne sais quoi that makes you feel like you're all conducting electricity together makes total sense as a type of illusion. Also, Eddi's band mates were a delight. -The lore. Clearly, Emma and I grew up with the same fairy tales. So much felt so familiar but also completely new, which is the feeling I'm always seeking in urban fantasy and so rarely find. -The writing. Emma's book sings. The sentences all lead perfectly into the next one. You need every word. So many lines I would have shared if I'd not been reading the book in full texture and/or could have been convinced to set it down for a minute. Alas, you'll just have to read it yourself. Things I wish I'd had more of: -The plot. It was a little thin, I think. Super cool, but I wanted more meat so that I felt the story like I did the bits about the music. -The ending. It was a bit rushed, I think. Again, I wanted a bit more suspense and closure. It worked well, but it was juuuuust "off" enough that I felt its absence. Especially as it's a stand alone, I wanted a bit more of a wind down. What can I say? Highly recommend this book. Even though it wasn't perfect, it's probably one of my favorite things I've read this year! And, like the rest of the world, apparently, I'd watch the hell out of this movie.

  29. 4 out of 5

    fantasy fiction is everything

    4.5 stars. My second original English version of fantasy fiction.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Krystle

    This book was described as the foundation for urban fantasy-ish, so I just had to read it. Right off the bat I could tell where Holly Black got her inspiration from for her Tithe series as it was glaringly obvious (even if I had only read the first few pages of that book). Let me tell you, after reading poor novels from this genre I didn't have high expectations for it. Well, this book completely blew the others out of the water and has definitely set the mark for others to meet. The world she This book was described as the foundation for urban fantasy-ish, so I just had to read it. Right off the bat I could tell where Holly Black got her inspiration from for her Tithe series as it was glaringly obvious (even if I had only read the first few pages of that book). Let me tell you, after reading poor novels from this genre I didn't have high expectations for it. Well, this book completely blew the others out of the water and has definitely set the mark for others to meet. The world she created was refreshingly simple, but yet complex. Her prose is fantastic, lyrical with unique descriptions that didn't fall into the trap of being cliche or trite. I couldn't connect much with the singer in a band bit because I've never had that experience but I can totally appreciate people who do this. Not to mention, I rather liked the lyrics she made for this novel. The way she wrote the main character, Eddi's, passion for singing was marvelous and it made me feel caught up in a magical world. I absolutely loved how the romance in this book was slow and built up so it was natural for the characters to fall in love, not like this "we meet" and then "OMG I LOVE YOU!!!" crap in young adult urban fantasy I see now. The other supporting characters were clearly defined and not just filler to enhance the main character's story arcs. If there's something I could nitpick it's probably the fact that the pacing slowed down quite a bit before the final climax. I'm sure it was the "calm before the storm" type of deal but I dunno, I just couldn't get into that part. Also, I may be wrong and my memory could be shot to hell, but I thought Eddi was the one who dumped her ex-boyfriend and not the other way around? Anywho, the ending to this was fantastic. She manages to give her readers a thoroughly satisfying conclusion without making it overly sappy, sweet, or riddled with barf-worthy cliches.

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