I came to the Borderlands series late, and Elsewhere was my first foray into it. Borderlands is a shared-universe anthology setting edited by Terry Windling, with a few complete novels set in the universe, as well. Elsewhere, and its sequel, Nevernever, are two of these novels. Now, I am not a plot-synopsis reviewer (you can read a synopsis above), but a word about the world is in order. Some of you may know a table-top roleplaying game called Shadowrun. The setting for the game is a future Earth that is part cyberpunk, part fantasy. The dystopia, technology, and biological enhancements of cyberpunk mix with the fantastic elements of magic and magical creatures (elves, dragons, spirits, etc.). Several books were written in the early 90's with this same type of world, and the subgenre eventually became what is now known as urban fantasy, perhaps the hottest subgenre of fantasy going currently. The Borderlands series is among the seminal works of this genre.
Shetterly is a fine, often overlooked author. His voice is vivid and evocative, and he is one of the funniest writers of the genre (think Jim Butcher). In Elsewhere he takes on the theme of adolescent rebellion in the form of runaway Ron. Although he doesn't shy from the serious issue of action-consequence, this book is tremendously entertaining and satisfying, despite its relatively short length (248 pgs, average for its 1991 pub date). Elsewhere is also suitable for YA readers, although that should not discourage adults.
A fun, fast-paced urban fantasy about a human teenager (his only asset: way too much attitude) who arrives in Bordertown, the city near the elusive boundary of Elfland, falls in with a mixed gang of humans, elves and 'halfies,' becomes involved in elvish politics, finds work in a wonderful bookstore (so nice to read a book set in the kind of quirky neighborhood bookstore that no Borders or B&N can ever compare with!), and learns some hard lessons about misplaced emotions: trust, anger, grief, affection...
Bordertown: the city on the edge, halfway between Faerie and the everyday World. Where neither magic nor science can be counted on to work, where the streets are alive with music and art-and where humans and Trueblood elves clash over turf, with halfies caught in the middle.
Like all the other runaways from the World and Faerie alike, Ron came to Bordertown in search of magic, of meaning. What he found was love and fear instead. From the rough splendor and mixed habitues of bohemian Castle Pup, to the banks of Mad River where addicts drown their minds in the dark waters terrible visions, Ron must make his way through battles greater-and graver-than he ever imagined possible.
The answers he seeks may be found on the shelves of Elsewhere, the strangest bookstore in two worlds. And then again, they may only come from inside himself.
I enjoyed this urban fantasy set in the NeverNever. I especially liked the interactions between Ron and the people he meets.