Author: Kersten Hamilton
Publication: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (November 15, 2010)
Description: Teagan Wylltson's best friend, Abby, dreams that horrifying creatures--goblins, shape-shifters, and beings of unearthly beauty but terrible cruelty--are hunting Teagan. Abby is always coming up with crazy stuff, though, so Teagan isn't worried. Her life isn't in danger. In fact, it's perfect. She's on track for a college scholarship. She has a great job. She's focused on school, work, and her future. No boys, no heartaches, no problems.
Until Finn Mac Cumhaill arrives. Finn's a bit on the unearthly beautiful side himself. He has a killer accent and a knee-weakening smile. And either he's crazy or he's been haunting Abby's dreams, because he's talking about goblins, too . . . and about being The Mac Cumhaill, born to fight all goblin-kind. Finn knows a thing or two about fighting. Which is a very good thing, because this time, Abby's right. The goblins are coming.
My Thoughts: This is a re-read for me to refresh my memory before I read In the Forests of the Night. You can see my original review here.
I was impressed again with the world-building and well-drawn characters in this story. Irish mythology is a deep well of source material for the writers of modern fantasy that I feel is underused. Hamilton does a great job of using Irish mythology to stock her novel with both frightening and fascinating characters.
I liked the contemporary basis of the story too. I liked the loving family. Just a few exchanges showed clearly that Teagan's parents loved each other and provided a secure base for both Teagen and her six year old brother Aiden. Teagan is a practical, goal-driven teen who has her eye set on entrance to the School of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell. Boys are not a part of her current plan. Her best friend is Abby Gagliano who adds comic relief along with fierce loyalty and protectiveness to the story.
When Social Services contacts her mother to provide a home for her nephew Finn, Teagan's world is turned upside down. First of all, there is an immediate chemistry between the two of them. They both literally feel sparks on meeting. But Finn brings a world that is completely strange to Tea. He has been raised by Irish Travelers, had been in foster care after the death of his parents, and had been living on the streets after escaping foster care at age 12. Now he is coming to live with the Wylltsons.
Aiden's mother writes and illustrates children's books filling with mythological creatures. Tea loves her mother's work but had no idea that she was painting from memory until after Finn's arrive. See, he's the Mac Cumhaill and charged to fight the goblins. They come trailing after him when he arrives. Starting a series of adventures that take Finn, Tea and Aiden to the land of fairy and back.
This was an excellent story and highly recommended. Check out the quotes to get more of a flavor of the book.
"A teenage daughter!" Abby's imitation of Ms. Skinner's tone was perfect. "What's that supposed to mean?"****
"That harboring hormones is a crime," Teagan said. "Now, shh."
"You're no good at war," Aiden said. "Mom's better. I'd rather play with her."****
"It's a fact" -- Mr. Wylltson swung Aiden over his shoulder--"that your father is a lover, not a fighter, and your mother is a blood-thirsty savage. But your mother has a book due. So set up your forces, and I will do my best." He carried Aiden giggling toward the alcove.
Finn stepped inside, and his eyes went first to the kitchen door, then the stairs. Teagan had seen a wolf do the same thing--check a new habitat for exits as soon as it entered. But he wolf had been frightened, and Finn was not. It took her five seconds to figure out that Ms. Skinner was wrong. He wasn't feral. You had to be tame before you could turn feral. Finn Mac Cumhaill did not look like he had ever been tame.I bought the ebook for my Kindle since it was on sale. You can get a copy here too.