The Tree Shepherd's Daughter
by Gillian Summers
Keelie Heartwood wants her mother. But it's no good. Mom has died in a plane crash, leaving her to be raised by her estranged father Zeke. It's a confusing change. Brought up exclusively by her ambitious, Los Angeles lawyer mom, Keelie is used to a privileged urban life, plans of going to law school, and being careful around trees - due to a rare allergy to wood, which since her childhood has caused her to hallucinate about seeing fairies. Now she is expected to live in the middle of a forest with the dad she barely knows, moving from one Renaissance Faire to another while he sells handcrafted furniture and attracts women like nobody's business.
Keelie doesn't plan to stay long. She has a plan to get back to L.A. and stay with her fashionable, preppie friends. But first she has to deal with one disaster after another, while her weird hallucinations resurface. Maybe the hardest part is coming to grips with the fact that they aren't hallucinations: Keelie can actually see fairies, tree spirits, and other magical things. She can sense the history of a piece of wood, work earth magic, and talk with trees. She has all these powers because she is half-elven; she will need them because an evil force prowls the woods around the High Mountain Renaissance Faire, a force that even her tree-shepherd father can't fight alone.
This first book in the Faire Folk Trilogy introduces us to the present-day heirs of Tolkien's elves. Evidently when they sailed west from Middle-Earth, they arrived in North America; and there they live to this day, masquerading as itinerant actors in period costumes. Not all of them are good, however. Some of them have unleashed a creature that may have sounded cute when you read about it in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, but which proves decidedly nasty here.
But Keelie doesn't face it alone. She is strengthened by her growing acceptance of her father's love, her healing sorrow for her mother, the watchful eye of a too-smart-by-half cat named Knot, the friendship of a goth girl and a dwarf, a romance with an elf prince named Sean o' the Wood, and the faith of the trees. Meanwhile, your reading pleasure will be heightened by Keelie's growth as a character, her eye-opening experiences behind the scenes of a Ren Faire, and her fun sense of wit and irony. Things don't go smoothly for her; she even has some rough spots to work out of herself. But her sudden immersion in a pool of timeless magic within the modern world is as bracing for her as delightful to us.
St. Louis, USA
Recommended Age: 14+
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