War for the Oaks is about Minneapolis, rock and roll, faeries, war and rock and roll. It is decidedly well written and paced. The descriptions of playing in a band and feeling the response of the crowd are so surreal, yet so realistic that I found myself nodding and saying “that’s exactly what it’s like, she got that perfect” even though I have never been in a band nor experienced the euphoric magic of resonance that she describes. I’m not even particularly fond of music.
The creatures of faerie are sufficiently alien – and not just in their looks and dress – but not so strange that it seems unrealistic that they have lived among us for so many years. This is a hard balance to strike. As readers we can instantly spot one of the Sidhe or another mythological creature and still believe that the characters would not figure it out.
The story comes together in surprising ways that actually make the rock and roll an important part of the ending and not just a theme.
The most important thing about this book, though, is the city. This book could not have been written by somebody who didn’t love Minneapolis and the surrounding area. Emma Bull breathes life into it and makes it a place where the Seelie fight over land, the Sidhe battle across parks and streets and rock and roll is alive and part of the magic.