The dark side of faerie for a younger crowd.
Thirteen-year-old Maddy, living with her grandparents in an Irish village since the deaths of her parents, is a horror of a child. She snarls at her grandparents, is rude to her cousins and is friendly only with Stephen, the toddler next door. It’s no surprise she’s snappish and violent when a boy accosts her on the grounds of a tourist-trap “faerie kingdom.” Unsurprisingly, it’s a poor idea to be rude to strangers on a faerie mound, however ostensibly artificial the mound may be. That very night, Maddy watches in terror as the strange boy—now long of ear and sharp of tooth—kidnaps Stephen. The need to rescue Stephen brings Maddy and two of her cousins into a twisted wintertime Tír na nÓg, its Irish (and somewhat Narnia-inflected) character mixing with a mishmash of names from Norse, Roman, Blackfeet and Inuit myth and history—there’s even a twiggy dryad with an Afro. At first, Maddy’s behavior is hardly heroic; when her grandparents refuse to support her story about Stephen’s abduction, she “sulk[s] and stomp[s] about the house all day,” and her treatment of her cousins at the beginning of the quest is harshly critical. The fantasyland adventure brings the three children together in predictable-if-satisfying ways, however, and feral little Maddy becomes almost likable.
A little incoherent—but enjoyable for all that. (glossary) (Fantasy. 9-11)