They take human children and leave changelings in their place... stolen children go into the mound and we can't follow.'
Her parents dead, Maddy is sick of living in Ireland, sick of Blarney and sick of her cousin Danny, one of the nastiest people you could meet this side of an Asbo. Mad as hell one evening, she crawls inside the grounds of the castle, the one place she has always been forbidden to go. Once inside, she is chased by a strange feral boy, who she suspects is one of the faerie: cruel, fantastical people who live among humans and exchange local children for their own.
When the boy returns to steal her neighbour Stephen into his world, Maddy and her cousins set off on a terrifying journey into a magical wilderness, determined to bring him back home. To do so, they must face an evil as old as the earth itself...
After having a hectic end of year it's now great to finally have a bit of time to read once more. Especially as the howling winds and battering rain beat rhythmically against my window pane! Anyway, I'd like to start with a New Year confession . . . . . at times I do judge a book by its cover and in fact I did so with this book. I depicted intriguing characters, mystical elements and an ethereal fairy realm - of which even more lurked within the pages.
Set in modern day Ireland, three children (Maddy and her cousins) find themselves entering the fairy realm on a quest to retrieve a stolen boy Stephen. Enchanted and captured by the evil fairy, he was replaced with a changeling and then taken to the fairy realm. As a result, the children have a number of dangerous encounters with evil characters, all based on traditional Celtic folklore, in their quest to return Stephen to his home in Blarney.
Initially the book starts sedately, but soon picks up pace when the children enter the fairy realm. This is maintained throughout the book until the unexpected ending. Interestingly, this does not follow the traditional Irish folklore mould and instead delivers an unexpected and original punch.
A number of interesting creatures enter the pages of this book, but my favourite character is Fachtna (meaning 'hostile' in Irish). Fachtna lives, eats, sleeps and breathes war. In fact she is never happier than when she has a knife in her hand and is ready to kill. However, even bearing all of this information in mind, I hope that we will be able to uncover more of her personality and motives within the next book ' '.
This is a strong and accomplished debut novel which, in my eyes, competes with books written by more established authors. It will both capture and captivate all ages. However, this cannot be mistaken as being a 'nice' traditional fairytale as it is steeped in darkness and elements of horror - both of which can make the read very unsettling. Nevertheless this seedling grows into a blossoming bloom.
Published by Quercus Publishing - 5 January 2012 - Fiction Age 9+