"...stories birling ..."
This book is page turner and a wonderful unintended excursion.
It is ironic that I got lost in a glen on the way to Jo Zebedee’s book launch for Waters and the Wild, and I certainly gave my friends a wee titter on facebook when I described that journey from Larne to Carickfergus.
How can anyone from Larne get lost on the back road to Carrickfergus?
At first I blamed the majesty of Glenoe, but maybe, just maybe, there were wee winged creatures in the undergrowth guiding my destination!
I recently stumbled across the Ordnance surveys of the 1830s and discovered that apart from drinking copious amounts of whiskey and dancing their socks off, Presbyterians and Catholics of County Antrim in Victorian times were united in an unerring belief in the fairies!
The Glens of Antrim surround the town in which I live and they have claimed a great big part of my heart: Sunday drives to buy ice-cream in Carnlough; childhood beach trips to Waterfoot; practice hikes and expeditions through marshy mountains on Duke of Edinburgh awards; romantic flights of fancy in a white Fiat Uno with my boyfriend in 1994; guiding tourists (without getting lost) around the waterfalls at Glenoe and Glenariff; leafy walks with my children around Glenarm forest and the music and laughter of the annual Dalriada festival. In short; enough to inspire my own literary endeavours.
“It’s set in the Glens!” she said, and that’s all it took for me to be compelled to read Jo Zebedee’s Waters and the Wild.
Yet, there was one small hesitation running through my mind.
“It’s a fantasy novel.”
(I speak in a whisper when I say, I have tried and failed to like the great big HBO hit TV programme that was filmed in many locations in the Glens of Antrim. This makes me nervous of the fantasy genre.)
However, I begin reading Waters and the Wild and I begin questioning if it the book belongs to the fantasy genre at all.
Waters and the Wild opens at a wedding in the Laurel Lodge at Glenariff. I feel safe. I am in an area of outstanding natural beauty. I am in an area I trust and love.
The characters are clad in wedding outfits and they are not sporting wings. I read on. This is familiar terrain.
The time is the present day and not some alternative zone in which people appear in medieval dress. The only sound in my living room is the fast fissle of pages turning.
The protagonist, Amy, is very cute and impish in her fairy-like dress and Simon is the handsome hero... Hang on a minute! Romance in the Glens? I’m dreaming of long summer nights cruising in a Fiat Uno.
The fairies (or the voices) arrive in full flight and I’m in love with this book, (and Simon.) If a hardy Presbyterian from 1830s Glenoe can do fairies, then so can I!
And so, the oscillating dilemma of fantasy versus reality begins: is Amy ill or is Amy away with the fairies?
Is this a fantasy novel, or is this a unique piece of contemporary fiction that is written in such a fast-paced and unfaltering way that it could well be the book that pulls Jo Zebedee into the world of mainstream Irish fiction (albeit with a water shee grabbing her throat) as she rises to the fore of bookshelves from Carrickfergus to Killarney?
This is a beautiful book and a gripping story from start to finish. I will keep it and treasure it as a reminder that I can sometimes get lost with the fairies and find myself in unintended places on an apparently straight road.
Angeline King is the author of:
Irish Dancing: The festival story
A history of dancing in Ulster with a focus on the festival tradition of Irish Dancing.
"An enjoyable coming-of-age tale with a Belfast twist" (The Irish Times)
Click here to start reading.
A Belfast Tale:
“Uniquely, authentically and enjoyably Belfast" (Tony Macaulay, author of Paperboy.)
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Children of Latharna:
Lyrical and nostalgic; wistful and humorous, Ian Andrew, author.
Click here to read for free
Scene from Snugville Street
The Wedding Wisp
82 Waterloo Road
The Teacher Voice
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The linguist behind Ulster Scots.
Kailyard & Dusty Bluebells
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Martha Taylor's diary
Jean McCullagh at 104
Ballymena & the McConnells
Arms in Irish Dancing
Catholics & Protestants in Irish dancing
Irish Dancing: The Festival Story
The Protestant in Irish Fiction.
The Protestant in Irish fiction II
Ulster-Scots in Irish Fiction
An author in Wonderland
Dancing in Victorian Ulster
Learning the Irish Language.
John Hewitt Summer School
Lesley Allen & Helen Nicholl