Thursday, February 4, 2010
The Kingdom by Jennifer McBay Barry
I read this book as part of a book club read. Unfortunately it is not available in Australia (at least through Independent booksellers and the main book chains), whether this is because it was only recently published or because it was a short first print run I'm not sure, but I had to obtain it overseas. It IS stocked by Amazon.com at the moment.
The first thing that struck me about the book is that it is quite a slim volume. In the large paperback format it is a mere 237 pages. In the YA category it's written simply and its size makes it is a nice, quick read!
The story is set in modern day Ireland and is written from the viewpoint of Rioghan, an incredibly handsome young man that we quickly learn has unearthly charms and talents. Toying with people's emotions he is clearly bored yet little things he does shows he really does care - providing it doesn't involve him!
Upon meeting the sharp-tongued, red haired Lily, daughter of a famous opera singer, he feels a niggle of something more. She doesn't fall for his charms and he starts to find her fascinating. The more Lily resists Rioghan, the more he feels and soon she becomes the centre of his universe.
The story is a wonderful blend of mythology and legend, of an immortal/ mortal relationship and of finding what is most important versus what you are expected to do.
The picturesque country of Ireland, described so well, provides a wonderful setting for this modern fairy tale.
Although I wasn't immediately impressed, the characters are interesting, have a depth to them that made me want to know more and I was soon in the can't-put-it-down mode! I couldn't help but think back on the legends and stories of the past and everything became completely plausible. By the end I was disappointed that there weren't a few hundred more pages!
I do have a bit of a problem with a couple of the terms used (eg. 'fairy' seems a bit light for the story and perhaps a more archaic spelling or term, eg 'faerie' or 'fair folk' would raise the level a little) but this is a fairly minor concern.
This is the start of a series and I must say that I am looking forward to reading more about Rioghan and his Kingdom in the future!