This book. How do I describe it while avoiding spoilers? Pretty darn tough, I'll tell you that. It starts fairly innocuously with Apollo, whose father abandoned Apollo and his mother when Apollo was young, meeting Emma, wooing her, marrying, and having a son. This is probably the first third of the book, and it's entertaining, charming without being twee, and then--boom. It gets dark. Very dark, very quickly. And suddenly we're in a world where Apollo's name means something, and fairy tales are real, and there are mentions of Norse myths and supernatural events and even, by God, a mention of Catherine Linton that I still don't quite understand but am fascinated by (and I can't for a second believe it's a coincidence that author LaValle uses that name).
But to give a clearer outline of the plot, I'd have to give spoilers, and I'm just not going to do that. I'll just say: If you like magical realism, if you like myth and fairy tales (the real Grimm tales, not the Disneyfied versions), and if you like great writing, this one's for you. Oh: and it's a love letter to reading: "Unsupervised reading is a blessing for a certain kind of child."
Having finished the book, now I really want to return to those dark fairy tales: "Merchants were making money, and they wanted to live better than the lower classes did. This meant there were new rules about how to behave, both for the adults and for the kids. Fairy tales changed accordingly. Now they had to have a moral, something to train those children in the new rules. Which is when they started turning to shit. A bad fairy tale has some simple goddamn moral. A great fairy tale tells the truth."