Top positive review
3 of 3 people found this helpful
Short and very sweet!
on 26 November 2013
A fun story with a lot of hidden depth. The story ticks many boxes for me; a dark fairy tale, in the best possible Grimm tradition; a subtle Christian allegory, that C.S. Lewis would recognise; an understanding of esoteric mysticism that will resonate with fans of F. Frank Baum.
Branna is born into a pagan Irish family that is grounded in a strong belief in the mystical world. Her religion is quickly being swept aside by the powerful Christian church. Her family keeps to itself in their humble house in the woods, limiting contact with the outside world to the occasional visit to the local village to trade for food and other provisions. Everything changes when Branna encounters a demon from the new religion. Her meeting with the demon sets in motion a series of terrifying events that results in Branna being seriously injured. As she drifts between this life and the next she enters a terrifying would of eternal darkness that is filled with shadowy creatures born out of every imaginable nightmare. Branna brings new hope and new life to the dark other-place with the help of Rufus and D; wise old men who dwell in the otherworld and who recognise the power of the young witch, and how important she is to the eternal battle between good and evil; both in the mortal world and in the hidden realm. Based on his physical description, costume, and the subtle hints to someone with knowledge of the future (some of which are more subtle than others), I suspect that the character of D may be based on Queen Elizabeth I's mystic, Doctor John Dee. Rufus is also not quite what he seems, but I cannot think of an obvious historical personality to peg him on.
Definitely a story that can be enjoyed by many readers at many levels. Kids will love it at one level and adults will read a much more sophisticated tale. The clever use of tense to denote a shift between this world and the next, and to separate one period of time from another, can serve to snag on the brain just a little, but on the second read through, it became fluid and wonderful; like the pieces of a puzzle falling into place.