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Volume VIII Number 1 . . . . September 7, 2001
The mission was certainly harder and more complicated than she had expected. It was also lonely and scary, not to mention dangerous. On top of all that, she was really worried about Gabriel and missing him badly.Book 3 of the "Chronicles of Faerie" features Irish-born 11-year-old Dana who lives with her Canadian-born father in Bray, Ireland. When Gabe accepts a job in Toronto and tells her they will move in the fall, Dana hates him for threatening both her familiar world and the possibility of finding her mother who had disappeared without a trace eight years earlier. Frustrated and unhappy, she willingly considers a mysterious proposal from Honor, a representative of Faerie, to locate the King of Wicklow and deliver a message: "A shadow is crossing the land. The enemy rises. Where is the light to bridge the darkness?" In return, Dana will receive her "heart's desire," her "wish come true." Seeing this as a chance to find her mother, Dana accepts the challenge and embarks upon a quest that moves her between her normal world and the fantasy world of Faerie. "The two worlds are not separate," Dana learns. "They intertwine. What affects one affects the other."
Dana gains confidence as she follows "the greenway," receiving "magical" tokens and assistance from inhabitants of the mythical world. In spite of hazards and enemies, Dana fulfills her mission by the deadline, saves Faerie, prevents an environmental disaster, and most importantly, discovers the reason she was chosen for the quest. In so doing, Dana, the Light-Bearer's daughter, accepts "her destiny" and accepts "also her new destination." Intertwined with Dana's quest is the eco-warrior's struggle to save the Glen of Downs' being turned into a four-lane highway; however, the environmental theme remains primarily under-developed.
As does Laurel in Book 2, Dana successfully faces extraordinary challenges and accepts difficult changes. By choosing a pre-adolescent heroine, Melling broadens the age appeal of the fantasy while maintaining the richness of language that should help expand young reader's vocabulary marvelously. The plot races along at a brisk pace; the heroine is memorable and worthy of the quest; the secondary characters, both admirable and villainous, are colourful; the dialogue is appropriate; the description, especially of the fantasy world, is vivid and imaginative; good overcomes evil and love triumphs. Melling carefully sustains the elements of Celtic folklore established in the first three books of the series. An introductory map sets the scene, and a glossary offers a "key to pronunciation and meaning of Irish words" and phrases not explained in the text and. Fans of the genre should find Melling's latest contribution satisfying and captivating.
Darleen Golke is a recently retired teacher-librarian who lives in Winnipeg, MB.
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