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Darkhenge Paperback – 5 Jan 2006
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"Catherine Fisher is a writer of rare talent" (The Sunday Times)
"A subtle thriller with passages of intense description interspersed with the plot full of excitement" (The School Librarian)
"Fisher is a hugely talented writer . . . This is a dark and brooding fantasy" (Sainsbury's Magazine)
"Fisher conveys complex human emotions through fantasy, teen angst has rarely had such a visceral expression as in the boggy, unpredictable wilderness of Chloe's self-created prison" (Booklist)
"A fantastic story" (Teen Titles)
How far would you go to escape your brother's shadow?
A literary fantasy about jealousy, rivalry and power
Top customer reviews
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Don't expect anything throw away from Catherine Fisher. She knows too much about myth and how it helps us make sense of our lives to produce anything lightweight.
I can't wait for the last in the Oracle trilogy
If you really want to enjoy this book you have to start with the tale of Taliesin and Ceridwen. Taliesin is the great poet of ancient Wales and most great Welsh story myths begin and end with him and the Mabinogion, written or compiled around the 1350's and the oldest popularly available compendium of medieval and iron age Welsh myth and poetry, some of which dates to the 900's. Not to be a wise guy but if you just look up Taliesin in Wikipedia you will find an excellent summary of the Ceridwen story. That will illuminate many of the story lines in this book. Taliesin, (actually his alter ego Gwion Bach), stole the three drops from the magic cauldron before Ceridwen could receive them and so he received wisdom enchantment, magic and divination. Then, "all too soon he heard her fury and the sound of her pursuit. He turned himself into a hare on the land and she became a greyhound. He turned himself into a fish and jumped into a river: she then turned into an otter. He turned into a bird in the air, and in response she became a hawk." See, "Darkhenge" is starting to make sense, and we can start following Taliesin/Vetch and Ceridwen/Clare and so on.
The other thing going on is this. Almost all of the stories in the Mabinogion, the Red Book, the White Book and so on are fragments. You can read them over and over; you can read them in the original Welsh, but they don't have traditional beginnings and middles and ends. They aren't internally consistent. They have a non-linear, confusing, pasted together feeling. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow and enjoy the "feel" of the story. That's why you have reviewers complaining of the same sort of thing with this book. That episodic, ambiguous, vaguely confused feeling arises naturally from the underlying material.
This isn't like turning "Romeo and Juliet" into "West Side Story". Your source material is just mismatched pieces. That's why people can make books and movies about Arthur that are all over the place - the Arthur stories are all over the place. And having a character named "Merlin" isn't enough. This is always a problem with modernizing and redoing the Welsh tales. There have been some notable successes: Susan Cooper's "Dark Is Rising" sequence, Jenny Nimmo's "Magician Trilogy", some parts of Lloyd Alexander's books, Alan Garner's "The Owl Service", and a host of lesser efforts.
In that light this book does a remarkably good job of staying close to the Ceridwen story and emulating the mood and story telling thrust of the originals, while bringing the story up to date for modern sensibilities. (By the way, all of the tree bits come from "The Battle of the Trees" an epic Welsh poem about a mighty battle that sets out the bravery, courage, strength and weaknesses of all the different types of trees that participated. It is a genuine masterpiece and a delight to see how it was used here.)
So, if you give up linear thinking for a while, embrace the idea of an ambiguous and episodic plot, and abandon closure in favor of inspiration, you may very well really really enjoy this book. Da darllen! (Good read!)
Then one evening he stumbles upon some New Ager-type people. They have entered a clearing outside his town and ask him for the secret word. He has no idea what they are talking about, and the only word that comes to mind is "Chloe." This is not the word they were seeking. Instead, another mysterious man enters the clearing and asks Rob for assistance. The group again seeks the magical word. This time, the mysterious man, Vetch, mutters "Darkhenge," the word that was requested.
With the entrance of Vetch, a journey begins for all involved. Vetch is from the Unworld and is trying to get back. Archeologists in Rob's town have uncovered the Darkhenge and are trying to destroy it. The unlikely group must band together to save the Darkhenge and return Vetch to his world. Vetch reveals to Rob that his sister, Chloe, is being held in the Unworld and he can help Rob return her to his world, if he helps Vetch return to Unworld.
But the quest is met with obstacles in our world and in Unworld. The quest will be challenging and dangerous in many ways. The most unexpected twist is that Chloe may not want to return to the world she knows.
DARKHENGE is an imaginative dark tale of magic and dual worlds. Each of the main characters has many demons they must face, both real and imagined. The story moves quickly to a satisfying ending. Ms. Fisher has a creative imagination that leaves the reader wanting to experience more of her work.
Reviewed by: Jaglvr
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