Midori Snyder,
The Flight of Michael McBride
(Tor, 1994)

If someone had asked me a week ago what you would get if you mixed stories of the Irish sidhe with cowboy tales, I wouldn't have wanted to know. Well, this is exactly what Midori Snyder does in her novel The Flight of Michael McBride and I have to say I'm very glad that the question was never asked. The story, set in Victorian New York City and the "wild" West, is that of a young man struggling to find out who his parents really are, and who he will become.

When Michael's mother, Eileen, dies he is devastated. Angry at his father's perceived coldness toward Eileen and pursued by confusing, vicious and supernatural beings, he flees westward. A chance meeting on the train to Chicago gives him a direction to run in -- Redwing, Texas. Once there he is hired to handle horses for a cattle drive and begins to explore who he is, besides the son of James and Eileen McBride. However, the beings who attacked him in New York are still on his trail and when the cowboys begin to die in mysterious ways he is forced out into the desert to fend for himself. There he discovers his true heritage, the reasons for his father's behavior and his own power to make a life for himself.

Midori Snyder has written a moving story of a boy's self-discovery as well as a rollicking, and occasionally frightening, adventure filled with cowboys, fairy horses, ancient tales and the dust of the trail. Michael grows from a callow, sheltered boy into a capable young man, well able to handle the nearly continuous twists that fate throws him. This book moves fast, keeping the reader's attention with strongly drawn characters -- human, faery and animal -- and sharply rendered landscapes. Even if, like me, you are not a fan of stories set in the American West I would highly recommend The Flight of Michael McBride as an exciting adventure that works well on more than one level.

[ by Ziya Reynolds ]

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