CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

O.R. Melling.
Markham, ON: Viking Kestrel, 1986.
240pp., cloth, $16.95.
ISBN 0-670-80817-2. Distributed by Penguin Canada. CIP.

Subject Headings:
Time travel-Fiction.
Druids and druidism-Fiction.

Grades 6 and up / Ages 11 and up

Reviewed by Grace E. Funk.

Volume 14 Number 6
1986 November

The author of The Druid as Tune ¹ has set another young adult story in the same mix of Celtic and modern worlds. The legend concerns the Tuatha De Danaan, who may have existed as gods in old Ireland, and are written down as such in the Lebor Cabala according to the author's note. Kay, the heroine, passes through an old dolmen into a prehistoric Ireland of war and invasions and power struggles between the Druids (many centuries out of context) and the Queens. She must find and bring together three treasures, to permit the Tuatha (who have failed, rather, as gods) to leave Ireland for some mystical "Home." In the course of the quest, Kay finds and aids the princess Eriu.

The author does not handle her mix well. Interspersed with the breathless and improbably narrative are paragraphs of purple prose, but one is constantly being brought up short by unnecessary American slang. Neither has the author a firm grasp of time, let alone time travel. At the beginning of the book, Kay rescues Aherne, "a child, so frail and small." A few weeks later, Aherne is "a young and graceful woman, tall and strong-limbed." The book is a pastiche, and not all the elements hold together. The Horned King has become a hired assassin. The cauldron of life, so ably handled by LLoyd Alexander, has become a feasting bowl, described as being "cast," yet composed of ivory and diamond. T.H. White's backwards-living Merlin has become "Fintan, a doddery old man." The author has too obviously also read Tolkien.

Disguised as a search for identity (Kay is an abandoned orphan) the story lacks enough motivation for us to accept the heavy morality. The theme of the book is the '60's slogan, "Make love, not war," coupled with, "But sometimes you have to stand alone against everyone else and do what you think is right"; this from the eighteen-year-old stranger to the wisest of the Druids. We learn nothing of Kay's upbringing, nor what strengthens her for the ordeal of time travel, and makes her willing to assist the demented child, Aherne. Kay is a "Mage," but nothing in her parentage, even when she discovers it, accounts for her gifts. And nothing really justifies the happy ending of Kay's romance, either. The book needs a good editor, and much tightening up.

Grace E. Funk, Harwood E.S., Vernon, BC.

¹ Reviewed vol. Xll/4 July 1984, p.l53.

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