The Hounds of the Mórrígan
by Pat OShea
The Book Trolley is all about the question, What would be the perfect book to turn to after reading Harry Potter
? Answering that
question becomes more and more complex as the Harry Potter
series develops. Jenny Nimmos
"Children of the Red King"
instance, is one possible answer if youre looking for something on the level of Harry Potter and the Philosophers/Sorcerers Stone
This book by Pat OShea, on the other hand, is the nearest thing to Order of the Phoenix
, at least in size.
Yes, this book has over 600 pages. So it does require a fairly mature reader, who can handle a few Irish and Gaelic terms (the glossary is
helpful), a dash of myth and folk tale, a large canvas, and the patience and concentration to see a lot of plot-lines through to a
long-delayed payoff. Yet at the same time, it is so funny, so charming, so vivid, so engaging, that it really seems like light reading!
Pidge and Brigit live in the west of Ireland, near the town of Galway. Pidge is a protective older brother to his unnervingly fearless,
mischievous sister. But they are both good at heart, so it is they who are given a quest by the Dagda (the old good god of pre-Christian
Ireland). All the true creatures of the land are on their side, plus a couple of other gods in various disguises; and the two children are
given several magical gifts to aid them on their journey. However, it wont be easy. For they also have enemies chiefly the Mórrígan
(More-Ree-yan, Great Queen) and her two witchy alter-egos, who really make up one awful, magical being. The Mórrígan is a nasty,
manipulative piece of work who delights in human misery, especially warfare. If the two children fail in their quest, she may become so
powerful that every living thing in the world may suffer for it.
Its a long journey, then, full of wonderful creatures, deceptions, escapes, and miracles, in which Pidge and Brigit are trailed by a pack
of hounds who will only really become dangerous if the children run from them. Meanwhile they befriend spiders, earwigs, frogs, donkeys, an
extinct elk, and a sly fox; they meet people from other times, pass amazing obstacles, experience violent weather conditions, survive a
furious battle, lose hope and find it again, and all this before a climactic race against a merciless foe.
The books cheerful respect for ancient folk ways may require a parental occult content advisory. Please understand that I only mention
this because I know that many Christian parents are concerned about guiding their children spiritually; they should read this book with
their kids and be prepared to discuss it with them. I am not saying there is anything disturbing about the book or that anyone shouldnt
read it. But I foresee there being some interesting conversations, in Christian families, about the way Ms. OShea depicts the native
spirituality of her land. On the other hand, I would like to point out that most of the book takes place in the world of Faery, where
animals talk and immortal beings dwell. This is a kind of story, in a kind of setting, that some of the most revered Christian authors (such
as Tolkien and Lewis) used to tell. And though it is the evil god of the book who has a disturbing Three in One thing going on, it is the
good god, the Dagda, whose invisible presence in the background works through his faithful servants, and who never fails to provide help
when it is truly needed.
Recommended Age: 12+
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