O.R. Melling,
The Summer King
(Viking, 1999;
Puffin, 2000; Amulet, 2007)

When I first read The Hunter's Moon, it was a stand-alone novel. Now author O.R. Melling, working with a new publisher, has reissued the book as the first of three novels in her new The Chronicles of Faerie series -- a delightful fact of which I remained unaware until Melling sent me the complete set.

Although officially the second book of a trilogy, The Summer King can, like the previous book, stand alone. Melling makes several oblique references to events of the previous book and a few of its characters make cameo appearances, but otherwise, the tale is entirely separated. The link which joins these two books is the connection between modern Ireland and the realms of Faerie. Too, both books reinforce the bond between Canadians and their Irish roots, providing a young Canadian heroine in each.

In this book, Laurel Blackburn is an unwilling guest at her Irish grandparents' home in Bray. She finds little joy in anything these days, since her twin sister, Honor, died in a hang-gliding accident during the previous year's trip. But Laurel also has a quest -- to discover what truth, if any, lies in her sister's diary, where she describes some strange new companions and a mysterious mission on their behalf. Thus the disbelieving Laurel falls into the company of faerie and assumes her sister's task of freeing the imprisoned Summer King of Hy-Brasil.

The book, though written for a young-adult audience, is equally enchanting for older readers with an interest in Ireland and Irish lore. I certainly look forward to reading the final book in the series!

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 29 September 2001

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