RED HUGH by Deborah Lisson


Age Range: 11 - 13
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Limey-haters worldwide will crow at this history-based tale of Irish defiance during the reign of that “howling old hag,” that “harridan,” that “old red hag of a queen,” Elizabeth I. Kidnapped by deceitful British, young Hugh spends four long years as a prisoner in Dublin Castle, hearing news of one atrocity after another, beaten and scorned but triumphing in every verbal encounter with his prejudiced, stupid captors, all of whom dress in ridiculous clothes and practice a colorless, denatured religion. In contrast to their corrupt adversaries, the Irish are characterized as loyal, noble-hearted lovers of music and natural beauty, prevented from uniting to throw off their oppressor only by their penchant for internecine “freedom’s quarrels.” Readers not used to Gaelic place and personal names will find the nonstandard dialogue heavy going—“And look at yourself, Hugh Roe—out of fosterage, and dreaming, no doubt, of all the sins you’re going to commit, now you are after escaping the clutches of The Macsweeney Doe”—and the ideological message, capped by Hugh’s repeated, pointed, vows never to forget the wrongs and harms perpetrated by the British, is discomfiting, to say the least. Thanks to some supernatural help, Hugh escapes on his second try, and, as detailed in an afterword, went on to become another prematurely dead Irish hero. It’s an adventuresome tale, but the author uses it to promote an ugly agenda. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-86278-604-5
Page count: 224pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2001