by Sinéad O’Hart;
An Adventure Book Review by Erin the Literary Cat©, International Book Reviewer.
Hello, and welcome to my weekend Book Review featuring Adventures in Middle-Grade Fiction. If you’re here for the selfie, please scroll down!
Our book review this week is from the brilliant Irish writer, Sinéad O’Hart. As you may recall, we reviewed her recently released book, The Time Tider, a few weeks back. This adventure is quite different, though no less exciting for the younger reader. So, without further ado, gather your nearest and dearest together beside a fire, have a hot drink to hand, and settle in for an adventure into myth and legend.
AUTHOR: Sinéad O’Hart
Cover art by: Manuel Šumberac
Published by: Bonnier Books UK.
Imprint: Piccadilly Press.
Publication date for the paperback: 28 September 2023
Paperback ISBN: 978 – 1800 785 090
Cover price for Paperback £7.35
Kindle Price: £4.74
Age range: 8 upwards
Any dogs or cats? A very much Not Cat kind of cat called Catshee. More on that in the story.
Some as to plot direction and characters.
Thank you to…
We are exceedingly grateful to Sinéad, Bonnier Books/Piccadilly Press Publishers and NetGalley for the privilege of getting to Read & Review this exciting new release before publication.
As ever, our views are our own, and we only share reviews of books we have bought, been given as gifts, or received in exchange for an impartial review.
First and foremost, the books we review are those we like and feel our global readers deserve to know about and that we hope they, their children, friends, and students will enjoy.
Ireland is a land of mystery, magic, legend and myth. Where time holds the truth of gods, witches, giants and all manner of creatures that helped shape their past and traditions. But the magic wanes when the magic is no longer passed down through tales, recalled around the fireside and man’s destruction of the land and old ways through ‘progress’. Dangerously so, and enough that something begins to awaken from deep within the earth, aided by a witch.
In the (fictional) town of Carriganawn, Young Rose Darke lives with her parents and twin younger brothers. Late one night, hearing a strange sound outside, she ventures into the garden, armed only with her mother’s best wooden spoon.
Before her, a large ice giant forms from the falling hail. Voiceless, it gestures she should take a reddish, oval stone from its grasp. Having done so, the strange yet unthreatening giant leaps into the sky and is gone, swallowed into a peculiar darkness.
Confused, Rose returns to bed and thinks it is a dream. But waking to find the stone is real, along with her mother’s wrath for ruining her spoon, she wonders what is going on?
Rose won a full scholarship to a posh Grammar School but comes from a poorer but good family who happens to live on a council estate on the other side of town. This fact is made clear by Emer, a girl in her year who makes her life less than good. Unfortunately, Rose can’t retaliate or cause a stink as her dad is employed by Emer’s father. It would go badly for them all if he lost his job.
Rose takes a different way to school to avoid Emer and her friends, passing along a lesser-used road with shops. Here she finds friendship in the unlikely shape of the elderly lady, Nellie, who owns a sweet shop, and Gracie, an equally older gent who owns the cobblers shop on the opposite side of the road.
Now, the stone is known to Nellie and Gracie, who have much to share with young Rose. When she ventures into their parlour for a cup of tea and to pass some time and share her woes, she is soon shown a hidden world beyond the ordinary facade of the sweet shop. The two elderly folk are not mortals but beings from long past whose job is to protect the Silver Road, the magic network of threads that crisscross Ireland, its magical lifeblood if you will. They also protect a large and mythical cauldron inset into a mound in the green garden beyond the back kitchen door. The cauldron can grant wishes if it so chooses.
But the adventure soon takes off as the purpose of the stone gifted by the Ice Giant is revealed to Rose. In fact, her destiny is to be a hero and wield the stone’s destructive power for good.
When the stone is lost and found by Emer, things worsen, and Emer falls under its power.
Through these events, the heatwave that is affecting the town is worsening. It seems the witch is the cause, and the heat is only a taste of the destruction to be unleashed when she awakens the monster that is her beloved and imprisoned husband. The light from his evil eye will scorch the earth.
With the power in the Silver Road weakening because of human kinds’ rape of the land and development, Nellie and Gracie’s powers are weakened.
With the stone lost and only a magical cobblers hammer in her belt, Rose sets off to stop an impending cataclysmic event and evil arising from the dead and depths of the mythology.
I have to let the reader discover what happens next, the surprises that follow, the support Rose gets from unlikely quarters, and the fights that take place.
So, what did we think?
Mythology and legend rewoven and told for a modern younger audience with aplomb and zest worthy of the first story weavers. I dare say Tolkien would have been impressed also!
We are not great lovers of complex names or convolutions of historical epics, but thankfully this book has both a prologue that sets the scene and an appendix to enlighten us further as to characters and their place in history, or in the case of where the author has created them, their inspiration.
The action takes off about halfway through, and I found it hard to put down, especially once the not cat becomes involved and we reach a sort of gathering of forces.
Which all makes me think of the Lord of the Rings. The eloquence of the introduction of characters, their journey, wants and needs. Friendships and enemies. Surprises and, to a degree, heartache.
We loved the cover, too, the relevance of which you’ll discover once you read the story.
So . . . .
A book for lovers of Irish and Celtic mythology, as well as an excellent wholesome adventure. With some environmental undertones as well as those of friendship and responsibility.
This ticks all the boxes, and I can’t imagine any younger reader not wanting to read more about the actual characters that have lent themselves to this story in one shape or another and to read similar books.
Want to buy a copy?
To get a copy, please follow your own Silver Road – mindful of ogres, giants, ghosts and huge stags, down to your local independent bookshop. There are plenty out there; each shop is just waiting to serve up whatever kind of mythology, factual, magical, fun and adventure story you desire.
Sinéad O’Hart web page can be found HERE or type this: https://sjohart.wordpress.com/
Manuel Šumberac’s web page can be found HERE or type this: https://www.manuelsumberac.com/
Bonnier Books web page can be found HERE or type this: https://www.bonnierbooks.co.uk/
And now, the Sunday Selfie.
We are joining Janet Blue from the Cat on My Head blog for the weekly parade of selfies from all manner of companion creatures from across the pond and around the globe.
To go to Janet’s blog selfie page, please click this LINK, or type / cut and paste https://thecatonmyhead.com/the-end-of-an-era/
And finally, here is my selfie 🙂 🙂