THE HAWKS OF CHELNEY by Adrienne Jones


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In the environs of a remote coastal village a haft-wild boy roams the cliffs and estuaries, growing closer to the birds (especially an osprey pair, now rare in the area) than to the townspeople--among them his elderly parents, who are usually asleep when he arrives home at night and leaves in the morning. Then the superstitious villagers blame their poor fishing luck on the osprey; their hunt for the hawks becomes a hunt for the boy as well, and he moves into the osprey nest on an inaccessible cliff ledge, sharing the parent birds' fish catch with the nestlings and gradually becoming more like a hawk himself. Then, when the birds fly off, a shipwrecked girl arrives to share a cave with the boy (she reminds him of a seal); they come to love each other, and his emerging wings, beak, and down recede--but he becomes more birdlike than ever when she leaves for the village and the company of his mother. In the end the two are reunited, the villagers track them both, and Jones leaves readers to guess whether the pair have plunged to their death or flown away. Readers who are willingly susceptible to a deliberate atmosphere of strange beauty will find all this sufficiently heady; however, Jones' use of the mythic transformation element lacks the sense of compelling necessity it would take to move or convince.

Pub Date: April 19th, 1978
Publisher: Harper & Row