This is one book you can’t buy for Christmas, because it’s not out yet. But if the 5th of January could somehow be jiggled round to come before Christmas, I would suggest you buy a copy of The Feral Child for someone you know, and one for yourself. Unlike many books for 9+ this one is enjoyable for adults.
So there was no cause for me to worry. But one does, anyway. What if this new – first – book by someone who frequents this blog were to turn out to be boring or badly written? But Che Golden writes books the way she comments on blogs; intelligently and with wit and humour.
The book has a very strong first chapter. You just want to go on. There is nothing wobbly about this beginner.
I am quite fond of Tír na nÓg, although I have to say that Che has put some vicious faeries in her version. (For visiting purposes I’d much rather go to Kate Thompson’s Tír na nÓg, where the people are inept but friendly in a charming Irish sort of way.) But if they weren’t unpleasant there would be no adventure.
Maddy is a second generation Irish English girl, who has come to Blarney to live with her grandparents when her parents died. As we all do, she discovers that the lovely holiday destination is much less fun when you have to stay forever. She’s very unhappy, and her cousins aren’t too friendly towards her, either. ‘Dealing with prats like Danny, one of the nastiest people you could meet this side of an ASBO.’
She likes her toddler neighbour Stephen best, and when he’s snatched by a faerie one night, and taken to Tír na nÓg, Maddy sets off to rescue him. Unfortunately she can’t shake off her cousins, so they end up coming along on this dangerous journey. Some people – like Maddy’s grandfather – believe in faeries, but most people in Blarney don’t.
The Feral Child is a fantastic read, and has a nice Irish feel to it. I’m becoming increasingly partial to Irish books. It’s the first of a trilogy, and I’m looking forward to more Maddy, and wondering what on earth she can get up to next time. Will it be back to known enemies, or will she discover new ones?
Mr Ripley’s Enchanted Books, January 5 2012
Recently orphaned Maddy has come from London to live with her grandparents in Blarney. Shunned as an outsider at school and nagged by a neighbouring aunt, she feels she will never settle in this small unfriendly town, which ‘doesn’t even have a Pizza Hut.’ When her terrier chases a rabbit into the grounds of Blarney Castle, Maddy follows, despite Granda’s constant warnings that she stay away from it. But Granda has a specific reason for keeping Maddy away from the castle grounds.
This becomes apparent when she has a lucky escape from a sharp-toothed creature who tries to abduct her. But he returns to exchange the little boy next door for a changeling – which nobody seems to notice except Maddy. And who will believe her? She finally convinces her cousins, Roisín and ‘ASBO’ Danny to help search for the toddler. At the ancient faerie mound, they are drawn into a vortex of evil and extreme danger in a parallel world. A place that is cold – always cold.
Having three children as the main characters makes room for vibrant dialogue.The skilful blend of well-known figures and creatures from ancient Irish folklore and Celtic mythology with modern upfront youngsters makes the story bounce along with a mixture of laugh-aloud fun and nail-biting fear. The atmospheric descriptions of the cousins’ eerie journey through dark forests and lakes are almost tangible.