Happy Thanksgiving, and thank you to all my readers! I am so very grateful to all of you! Also, many thanks to the many authors who support my reading addiction.
The Seven Tales of Trinket by Shelley Moore Thomas
This gem-like book weaves new takes on many traditional Celtic stories together with that of a young girl in search of her father. Young Trinket, 11, was abandoned by her father, James the Bard, years before. He left on his travels, as bards will, and broke his promise to come back. Her mother now dead, Trinket decides to set off looking for her father. She takes with her the old and cryptic map of his journeys, and her friend, the slightly younger Thomas the Pig Boy. They find themselves in a Gypsy camp, and befriend a young Gypsy fortuneteller. She encourages Trinket to learn seven stories, so that she can stay a week in a place and have a new story to tell to each night in exchange for her keep. She also turns out to have heard the lullaby that Trinket’s father composed for her from a travelling bard long ago, so that Trinket is sure she is on the right trail, however cold. Now Trinket adds finding seven tales to her mission, along with finding her father. As she and Thomas travel, they hear of several other travelling bards, but none going by James the Bard. They do, however, have one adventure after another, including meeting with Selkies, a banshee, and a Pookah. All of them Trinket turns into stories or poems, and all except the first story of the Gypsy girl were takes on stories that were familiar to me, though Trinket’s stories tend to have happier endings. As she travels, and has more and more stories to tell, Trinket becomes known as the Story Lass. I would be remiss in failing to mention that she acquires, and learns to play, a harp! on her journeys, so she is a musical bard as well as a story-teller.
Even as exciting as Trinket’s adventures are, her reflections on who she is, who she’s becoming, and what kind of relationship she could have with her father should she find him still alive take up nearly equal time. The well-developed characters and beautiful writing make this a natural choice for people who appreciate these things. It feels nicely old-fashioned – I thought the cover represented this well. The way the stories wove in and out of the narrative reminded me of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and Starry River of the Sky (review forthcoming.) It would also tie in well with anthologies of Irish, Scottish and Welsh traditional tales, all of which feature in this book.