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The Wild Hunt (Point Signature) Paperback – 1 Mar 1997
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Two young boys become reluctant pawns in a showdown between light and dark, summer and winter, good and evil.
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Jerrold and Gerund are young boys who live in parallel versions of a huge house, "surrounded by rowan trees that are proof against magic." With each one lives the beautiful, chilly white cat; with Gerund also lives the overenthusiastic Mully the dog (who tends to echo the last few words of each sentence).
Outside, the Wild Hunt has begun; the chaotic, frightening king of winter is on the search for the Lady, who is "She Who Is Ever, She Whose Word Is Law, The Once and Future Queen, Maiden Mother and Crone, Summer and Goodness and Light." (Those last are highly debateable) Gerund and Jerrold are swept into the snowy wilderness, full of frightening hounds and the Moss-man, and the result of the clash between Summer and Winter is something that they never could have dreamed of.
One interesting fact about this book is that since the forces in motion are so much greater than the boys, they are not really able to change much. (I enjoyed the mentions of Aragorn, Ged, and Will Stanton by one of the boys, as fictional heroes) The ending is intriguing -- I really didn't see that coming, but after the events of the climax, I can't imagine it any other way.
Jerrold and Gerund are both brave and interesting, yet freaked enough by what is happening for them to be realistic. Mully's antics may grate on readers, but certain plot developments make him poignant rather than irritating. The horned man is menacing and nasty, but intriguing in his showdown with his wife. She's a bit more of a dark horse, as she seems much sweeter and more refined, but at the same time she is very cold and perhaps as menacing as her husband.
The writing is lovely, lyrical and very evocative. The pictures are simple black and white, very lifelike while retaining a slight softness and candlelit appearance. As far as quality goes, like some Point books it is printed on thick white paper, with a tight binding. No cracks on the edges of the binding, like many mass market paperbacks!
Some parents may not want their younger kids to read this, given the death of a couple characters, the idea of a young boy being used as "bait," a river of blood, and a forest of fruit that is actually maggots, flies, and insects. Additionally, younger children won't be able to fully appreciate the richness and background of this tale, though they may like it. Short as it is, this strikes me as more a YA novel than a children's.
Overall, this is a beautiful tale worthy of many rereadings on a winter's night.
Led by a cat who is an aspect of the Summer Queen, the lad must rescue himself from Herne. In doing so he learns the secret behind the Wild Hunt and the folly it represents.
This was an interesting and fresh telling of a classic legend.