Thistle Down by Irene Radford is a light fantasy that explores the life of Desdemona (Dusty) Carrick, a survivor of childhood leukemia. Her early fragility causes all of those around her, including her brother Dick, to treat her with extreme caution and overprotectiveness. Dusty as an adult has always dealt with stress by retreating to her safe haven in the basement of the Skene County Historical Museum but much of her childhood was spent in the company of the pixie Thistle. Thistle gets expelled from the pixie group headed by the new king Alder who betrays her and forces her into a human-sized body without wings or anything else she is used to so she seeks her friend Dusty. Dusty has not quite found a way to integrate fully into society and shuns people other than those she grew up with but she is different from most adults in that she remembers the pixies from her childhood. A mysterious move to destroy the central aged tree which forms the cornerstone of Thistle's pixie tribe and which will also disrupt the funding for the museum that provides Dusty's employment may cause the entire infrastructure of Skene Falls to collapse. It is up to Dusty and those around her to marshal a resistance that will allow the pixies and humans to continue to live in harmony.
Unfortunately, this work is not up to Ms. Radford's typically high standard of fantasy. There are interesting premises but the characters are a bit underdeveloped and although many plotlines are started, very few are adequately resolved. It was difficult establishing a rapport with the main characters who seem to be particularly ambivalent about everything and the romance was forced and unbelievable. Hopefully there will be additional books that will give more depth to the characters and their travails in quirky Skene Falls.
Dusty Carrick lived in the small town of Skene Falls, Oregon, her entire life. And, like many of the local children, she played with "imaginary" Pixie friends in Ten Acre Woods.
But the Pixies are not imaginary at all, and Ten Acre Woods is their home. Now, the woods are in danger, and if it falls, the Pixies too will die. Only Thistle Down, exiled from her tribe and trapped inside a mortal woman's body, can save her people-as long as she can convince Dusty Carrick to help her before it's too late.