Sunday, September 03, 2006

Book Review: The Summer King (The Chronicles of Faerie, book 2)

by O.R. Melling

Eighteen-year-old Laurel Blackburn travels to Ireland to visit her grandparents on the one year anniversary of the death of her twin sister, Honor. The previous year, while the two of them had been visiting Ireland, Honor fell to her death from Bray Head. Laurel blamed herself; if she had been with Honor, rather than with Ian Gray, the minister's attractive but rebellious son, Honor wouldn't have climbed Bray Head and she wouldn't have died.

Honor had believed in fairies, but Laurel is more pragmatic. But she so desperately wants Honor back, that when a cluricaun appears and tells her that she can save Honor, she has no choice but to believe. The cluricaun tells her that the Summer King is missing, and without the Summer King to light the ring of fire on Midsummer's Eve, Faerie is in trouble. And since Faerie and the human world are linked, the loss is affecting the human world as well. If Laurel can find the Summer King and bring him back to light the fire, Faerie will be restored and Honor will be saved.

Like its predecessor, The Hunter's Moon, The Summer King is a beautiful and lyrical tale of the relationship between human and Faerie. With death as a major theme, The Summer King has a dark poignancy that touches the heart. O.R. Melling was dealing with the death of her own father as she wrote this book, and the book asks the questions we all ask when we lose a loved one. Is this the end? Will I ever see them again — in this world or another?

Melling's vivid imagery brings to life both Ireland and the Faerie places. The story has romance, excitement, adventure, and even a pirate: Grace O'Malley, Ireland's 16th century female pirate. The fairies come in a variety of forms: from the tricky but humorous cluricaun to the beautiful, frightening sea fairies known as the boctogai; from the dark Summer King to Midir, the noble faerie High King.

The Summer King is linked in some ways to The Hunter's Moon, but it's an independent story that can be read on its own. Melling deliberately wrote the books in the series so that each could be read independently.

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