Cover of Except the Queen by Jane Yolen and Midori Snyder

Except the Queen

Midori Snyder and I originally wrote and sold this as a novella, which was published in the anthology The Fair Folk edited by Marvin Kaye. The book won the World Fantasy Award.

We always thought we’d make the book into a novel, but the first editor we showed it to felt there wasn’t enough there to make it a book. However, the second editor jumped at the chance (thanks, Jessica!) and even made us cut back on the 225,00 words by 10-15,000 to make it a tighter, better novel. (Though I carped and winged and moaned about doing it, I managed to cut 5,000 on a first pass and Midori cut the rest.

It was such a pleasure working with Midori because we have many of the same literary and mythic sensibilities. We each wrote several of the characters. Mine include the fey Serana, Red Cap, Robin, Jamie Oldcourse, the Man of Flowers, and the black Crones. Hers were the fey sister Meteora, Baba Yaga, the Queen, the girl Sparrow, the Jack, and the tattoo artist Long Lankin. But we also each went over the other’s chapters to make the book into a seamless whole.


  • World Fantasy Award winner
  • An SF Book Club Alternate Selection

Around the web:

What the Reviewers Say:

  • “(T)here’s plenty to enjoy as these former denizens of Court and Greenwood try to cope with our world; tough often baffled, they can be both funny and shrewd in their assessments.”—Locus
  • “It’s refreshing to find a fantasy novel which opts to make its protagonists something other than nubile teenagers, reflecting some of the reality of fantasy’s older readers and writers. For, while many fantasy writers refer to the archetypal triad of maid, mother, crone, few fantasy writers seem to actually include older female characters as protagonists.”—Greenman Review
  • “. . . Yolen teams up with Snyder . . . to weave a magical tale. After Serana and Meteora stumble across a secret that could damage the reputation of the Fairy Queen, the close-knit fay siblings are separated and banished to Earth. Stripped of youth, beauty, and magic, they struggle to adapt to the baffling modern world. In New York, Serana meets a feral young man whose talent for music is uncanny. In Milwaukee, Meteora finds refuge in the legendary Baba Yaga’s house, where she befriends a trouble woman being stalked by a murderous tattooist. As the various players converge for a deadly showdown, the truth behind the sisters’ exile is revealed. Unconventional narrative techniques and a full dose of magic and folklore give this urban fantasy a lyrical, mythic feel.”—Publisher’s Weekly
  • “Reminiscent of the urban fantasy of Charles de Lint in their ability to blend human characterizations with the world just beyond the borders of human perception, the authors succeed in crafting a modern fairy tale that should appeal to a broad readership. Highly recommended.”—Library Journal
  • “Jane Yolen really can’t be beat when it comes to traditional fantasy. This is a beautifully written novel.”—So Many Books, So Little Time
  • “While many books have trod the paths of mortals becoming lost in fairy mists, ‘Except the Queen’ illuminates the astonishing trail of immortals who have been thrust into the iron-and-concrete forests of modern-day mankind. And through the eyes of two Elven sisters, our polluted, noisy, crowded, dirty world suddenly resonates with a veritable rainbow of magical undertones. Yolen and Snyder’s prose is an a cappella composition of small magics, both human and fairy, and each character seems to step right out of the pages of our much-beloved storybooks. A fantastic read whether you believe in fairytales or not! “—Sacramento Book Review
  • “An unexpected delight of a novel. . . I loved the little surprises along the way to resolution and the unexpectedness of this quiet, beautifully written book. Indeed, it’s really the writing style that makes Except the Queen stand out – Jane Yolen and Midori Snyder have the collaboration thing down pat. Although I’m not sure if each author wrote as the separate voices of the sisters, my guess would be that is the case, and the overall result is damn near seamless. “—
  • “I loved the wealth of details about urban living for ex-fairies that the authors provide. And it was a just fine story, too, although it was the particular, rather than the plot, that I warmed to most. . . .Most of all, I loved the sense I had of two great writers having a lot of fun, and letting me come along for the ride. A very nice read indeed.”– http://Charlottes Library
  • “The characters are compelling and the plot nicely not obvious. This fey are authentic, the Unseelie Court terrifying, the Seelie Court maybe good but still not necessarily trustworthy or friendly to humans, both sides deeply respectful and fearful of Baba Yaga, who aligns herself with neither court. This is fantasy done well, and, I’ll note, a good stand-alone for those who want a solid fantasy fix without committing to a trilogy or more.”—Plymouth Staff Choices
  • “This is a great urban fantasy with an atypical feel to the story line that enhances the otherworldly tale. Fast-paced from the onset, fans will welcome the siblings as each struggles with adjusting to the world of the mortals. The sisters make the thriller work as their adaptation is slow and before they can partially adjust, they are caught up in a save two realms scenario. Jane Yolen and Midori Snyder team up with a winner as fans see New York and Milwaukee through the eyes of “political immigrants”.—