Hahn, that master of middle-grade horror, turns her attention to the fairy folk.
Mollie Cloverall loves her baby brother, Thomas. Despite her community’s warnings and customs, she can’t help but tell him what a good baby he is and how beautiful he is. The Kinde Folke, who are anything but kind, overhear her praise and wait for Mollie to borrow Thomas’ iron locket, the only thing keeping him safe. Within moments Thomas has been replaced with a changeling, an ugly, ill-tempered creature who soon wears out Mollie’s mother and drives her father away. Mollie decides to take the changeling, whom her mother calls Guest, back from whence he came and bring the real Thomas home. With the help of a mysterious man named Madog, this somewhat-unlikable heroine battles Pookas and other creatures of Celtic lore to win back her brother in spite of her growing affection for Guest. Readers hoping for the chills of Wait Till Helen Comes (1986) will not find them here, but this is a fast-paced, suspenseful, surprising tale of evil fairies and family loyalty. “Travelers” are portrayed as slightly ominous, part-fairy figures despite their status as an actual and marginalized community in Ireland; Mollie’s village of Lower Hexham doesn’t seem to be based on any real place, but Hahn’s afterword places the story within an older, presumably all-white Irish context.
A fun and creepy read. (Fantasy. 8-12)