O'Shaughnessey: The Faerie Circle
By Jeremy McGuire
2010 Outskirts Press
Hardcover Edition: 306 Pages
Genre: Young Adult/Juvenile Fiction
Summary (Press Release)
The second story about the intrepid leprechaun, O'Shaughnessey, takes up where the first left off, that is, with Bobby Mahoney grown and with children of his own. Having lost the ability to see leprechauns, he takes a trip to Ireland with his daughter, to study folklore. His daughter, twelve year old Margaret has no room in her life for such silliness as leprechauns and faeries. O'Shaughnessey has persuaded a reclusive Shenache (storyteller) name Moire McCarthy to take the visitors in, hoping that Bobby may eventually be able to see him.
While Bobby gathers folk tales, Moira and Margaret tend to the farm. Margaret quickly adapts to the hard work and total lack of modern conveniences. She's intrigued by the old woman who is constantly muttering prayers, and hold daily commerce, with Maeve, the Faerie Queen for whom the McCarthy family has preserved a large area of woodland.
Bobby, having been told not to step into a circle of mushrooms, does and is whisked away to the court of the Faerie King where he is kept as a husband for the princess. Margaret can't imagine her family without her father, so entirely by faith or in the possibility, and the awakening realization that there is a possibility that it is as the old woman says, she offers herself as hostage if the King will release her father. She is taken by kelpies under the lake and Bobby Mahoney is returned, having regained the Sight, but at a cost that may be too much for eith hom or Moira to bear.
As I read this book, I couldn't help but make a comparison to today's world, my own children, and to the students I have taught over the years. With the abundance of technology available today, I find we are a culture that is quickly losing its gift in the imaginary world and the world of creative thinking. As I watched Maragaret scoff at ideas throughout the novel, I couldn't help think about today's world and how quickly we deny or ridicule things that have no scientific explanation. There is so much technology available for children that I don't always feel there is room to allow children the freedom to express their creativity or to develop their imaginations. What happened to the days when children were allowed to run freely through the woods, play their own games, gather their own toys, and use whatever was around them as tools in their own games? I think I grieved for those days as I read.
This novel was about so much more than Margaret and Bobby discovering that the world was much deeper than the one they could presently see: it was about them discovering the magic of their youth (at least for Bobby), reconnecting with the playfulness of youth, discovering our imagination, and realizing there is so much more out there than the rigidity of education and personal success in the work force. Margaret is the brightest students at La Madeleine Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies and much is expected of her, from the way she dresses, to the way she talks, walks, speaks to, plays with, and so on. Her entire life is structured and controlled and she has very little say in what she does. There is a very touching scene in the novel when that realization comes to her and she breaks down from the stress of it all. She has a temper tantrum and breaks something very valuable of Moira's. While she is horrified, she also realizes that she has no idea who she really is, who she wants to become as a person, and she wants more control over her life, and she especially wants to be more of a kid. We need to give kids more freedom to be kids, to stop structuring their life so much, and give them back the ability to use their imaginations. In the long run, does it really matter if a child believes in leprechauns or faeries? Does it matter if one believes in Santa Claus?
There is a clear message in this novel and it touched me to the core. I really enjoyed this novel and I really loved the characters. They were quirky and humourous and each one had a path to follow and a personal discovery to make. I was particularly surprised by the ending as Margaret was reunited with her mother and brother, as their reactions to an important decision was not the reaction I was expecting. The story itself was interesting, with a lot of fun facts about some of the legends and folktales about Ireland. I would love to have learned more, but I like that kind of thing so it would have made me happy.
I really enjoyed this interesting tale about Margaret and Bobby's visit to Ireland. While it was not what I was expecting, it was still fun and fascinating, and there was definitely a message to be had. I am looking forward to the next tale in the series, O'Shaughnessey: The Changeling, which is in development.
Jeremy McGuire writes a weekly column for his blog which is found at his website at http://www.jeremymcguire.com/.
This book was provided to me as a review copy by Outskirts Press.