What if Alice had never fallen down the rabbit hole? What if the Pevensies had not gone through the wardrobe, or if September had told the Green Wind, "No, I'd much rather keep doing the dishes than visit Fairyland."? What happens to a land of magic and wonder when the expected child never arrives?
Harry "Felix" Bodie is a forty-something struggling actor who is hoping to break away from his job in children's television in exchange for the world of serious theater. Something that's turned out to be more difficult than he expected. His grandmother, Magda Bodie, was a famous children's author. She wrote the series "Underhill," which followed two children's adventures in a magical world that existed beside ours. When he's is invited to be a guest on a "Finding Your Roots"-esque show, Harry decides to lean into his grandmother's legacy, hinting in the interview that she'd alluded to being of royal descent.
Much to Harry's disappointment, the interview does not lead to the lucky break he'd hoped. Instead, he is rather frightened to find he's getting the wrong sort of attention from some very strange people. People who believe Underhill is more than just a story. That it is waiting for the royal family to return, and that he, Harry, is the key that can get them in. And they just might be right.
I strongly recommend And Put Away Childish Things (2023) for fans of dark fairytales and fractured fairytales. Adrian Tchaikovsky has created a delicious read that takes the common themes of the magic land genre, shakes them up, and runs with them.