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I think I may be too British for this book
on 16 June 2010
I really wanted to love this book, but sadly, I just couldn't. I think it might be because it uses Welsh myth: I grew up in Wales, and the flavour here just struck me as wrong. Somehow Welsh mythology gets a smell of Disney when you transport it to the USA or Canada. I don't know why. Perhaps because so many of the grimmer bits of Wales get left behind in transit.
The setting is Ottowa, and the protagonists are 'alternative thinkers' - by which the author mostly seems to mean agnostics or people of a mystical bent who are not Christian. A couple of 'conventional' relatives are mentioned and it's clear that these are Christians, in a very New World sense of the word. The fantasy elements are based on the fragments of pagan myth, if I have spotted them correctly, mostly via the Mabinogion.
So we've got this picture of on the one hand, the pagan celtic mystical world, and on the other, a sort of white picket fence 'normal' modern Christian world, and Never The Twain Shall Meet.
But nothing acknowledging 1600-odd years of Christianity in Wales, nothing recognising the Christian mystical tradition or Insular Christianity... There's an ring decorated with 'Celtic Ribbonwork' which the author clearly thinks of as pre-christian. But I can't help feeling the author is visualising it as something out of, say the Book of Kells, rather than La Tene.
The heroine is whimsical, with her green eyes and shocking failure to wear a smart skirt and makeup. I get it! Whimsical! Now stop banging on the contents of her desk and bookshelves, and get on with the story!
I just can't take pointy-eared elves playing drums seriously. I know it's a failing, but I just can't.