Reading Log: The Chronicles of Faeirie: The Hunter's Moon by O.R. Melling
The Chronicles of Faerie: The Hunter's Moon is possibly the first young adult novel I've read in a while that I probably would have enjoyed more as a young adult. I enjoyed the story line and most of the characters, and I was definitely intrigued enough to read to the end, which was fairly exciting. But the book just never clicked for me the way that so many others have, though I'm almost certain it would have ranked among my favorites when I was somewhere between nine to twelve years old.
Quick plot summary: Gwen is visiting her cousin, Finnabhair (Finn-av-heer), in Ireland for the summer. The two girls set out on a jaunt, sleep on a fairy mound, and Finnabhair willingly goes into the land of Faerie to become the Faerie Queen. The Faerie King, Finvarra, also wants Gwen, as that will give him a human hostage for his bride and a human hostage for the ritual sacrifice. In her efforts to rescue her cousin from the Faerie realm, Gwen flirts with Faerie, yet ultimately escapes with the help of the Wise Woman and her grandson, Dara. Left without a second human hostage, Finn will have to play that role, unless Gwen et al. can come up with something else.
What works: The atmosphere is lovely. I did get caught up in the faerie revels and the tension leading up to the final scenes. I also appreciated Melling's insistance that faerie and real life don't have to be at opposites. For example, Dara is the King of Inch [Island] (where the drama is the highest), but he is also the son of resort owners and will be going to college for business and Irish history degrees. Contemporary and modern is just fine, but it doesn't hurt to leave a dish of milk by the back door for the garden fairies.
What doesn't work: While the language of the book doesn't exactly condescend, it is clearly intended (giving the benefit of the doubt) for a less sophisticated reader. I can't put my finger on it exactly, but I didn't feel the flow that excellent prose can bring to a novel. I felt like I was reading a young adult novel rather than reading a novel that may or may not be categorized as young adult (think Phillip Pullman).
I was also not satisfied with the character development. Finnabhair comes off as not much more than a selfish, good looking teen age girl who gets accepted into the cool girls' clique. As with many 16 year old girls, Gwen finds herself questioning her body image, especially in comparison with Finn. Yet Gwen still manages to come away with a boyfriend of her own.
Finally, the penultimate scenes just didn't work out for me (I kind of enjoyed the twist at the end, so I'll say I liked the ending). The energy and drama did pull me up to the end, but I'll just say that there was some confusion in the heat of the battle. I'm not really sure what happened or why, and what was ultimately gained from the climax.
All in all, it was a fun read, and I would recommend it to a pre-teenage girl who is interested in Faerie. Since I have the second book in the Chronicles, I'll go ahead and read it, too, but I think these will be in my "find another home" pile.