Friday, September 11, 2009
The Hunter's Moon
Author: O.R. Melling
Publisher: Amulet Books
Copyright Date: 2005
Print Date: April 2005
Pages: 261 + Glossary
Series: 1st in the Chronicles of Fairie series
Book Description (from dust jacket):
Gwen and her Irish cousin Findabhair share an obsession for all things magical, especially the ancient fairy myths of beautiful creatures who lure humans into danger. Still, when Gwen arrives in Ireland for a summer of backpacking with Findabhair, she expects only the usual road trip excitement: late nights, interesting strangers, and no parents. She does not expect to do battle with the King of Fairie himself.
On a lark, the two girls camp inside a sacred grave mound on the mystical hill of Tara. That night Findabhair is kidnapped by the King, and it is up to Gwen, alone in a different country, to save her. With help of friends she meets along the way, including a leprechaun with bad driving habits, a girl farmer, and a gorgeous eighteen-year-old Irish king, Gwen chases the fairy court across Ireland, trying to outwit the masters of trickery. But all her bravery and resourcefulness may not save her cousin or herself, for it's the time of the Hunter's Moon and the faries need a sacrifice.
I had high expectations for this book. When I first saw it on the library shelf I was drawn by the shiny spine and title (Hunter's Moon sounds paranormal or fantasy to me). Pulling it out to discover the front view of the cover (which — though you can't really tell on the computer screen — is really 'magical' and attractive) drew me in further. The first paragraph of the blurb was enough to decide me. I was taking it home.
At home I noticed the recommendations on the back of the dust jacket that say things like, "In a fair world, a new book from [Melling] would be anticipated with all the fanfare of a new Rowling title..." etc. (BTW, that quote is from an author named Charles de Lint. Since it also says he's the winner of the World Fantasy Award I feel stupid admitting I have no clue who he is, but there you are.) I really love Rowling's Harry Potter books so my expectations rose.
An introductory quote from a Yeat's poem (a passage I love) and an intriguing Prologue made my anticipation even more intense. And then I read on. I suppose it's only to be expected that I was disappointed. I can only wonder if I would have been more satisfied had my expectations not been so high.
It wasn't a bad book. I enjoyed the story, and I'm going to try the next book in the series. But part way through I was feeling disconnected. After briefly analyzing why this might be, I decided the characters feel a bit flat. Gwen grows as it goes on, but many of the secondary characters are more "two-dimensional" if you will. And Gwen's cousin Findabhair is downright frustrating and in some ways unreal. In fact, I was startled to discover Findabhair share's her name with Melling's daughter. I would have thought she'd only give her daughter's name to a more likeable character. But maybe that's just me.
Anyway, the characters did gain (some) more depth at the end. Plus, the background was charming, fantastical, and in some cases creepy; the glimpse into Melling's fairie world, based on Irish tales, is interesting. I just wish I could have connected to some of the characters more and all the way through.
On an educational note: A glossary of Irish words and a note from the author about the Irish language can be found at the end. I found both of these interesting and helpful.