Converging craziness from all angles of life has been making posting difficult – but here is a lovely summery read for anyone feeling the cold.
Seven Wild Sisters by Charles DeLint. Illustrated by Charles Vess. Little, Brown and Company, 2014.
Sarah Jane is the middle of seven sisters raised on the edges of the wood. Her exploring leads her to discover old Aunt Lillian, living alone on a farmstead in the hills. Clearly, Aunt Lillian is the young Lillian about whom The Cats of Tanglewood Forest was told. And where that story didn’t seem firmly anchored in time, this one feels much more like the present day, if still loosely defined. At any rate, Aunt Lillian tells Sarah Jane stories about the creatures of the woods – the rivalry between the ‘sang men and the bee fairies, the old man who lives in the apple tree out in the orchard. But as fascinating as Sarah Jane finds the stories, Aunt Lillian tells her that it’s dangerous to get involved. Sarah Jane tries, but one day, out picking the ‘sang, she finds a tiny man stuck full of arrows. Of course she takes him back to Aunt Lillian and tries to save him – but now she’s in the middle of a battle between the ‘sang men and the bee folk, one that escalates to include all of her sisters.
As before, pieces from traditional Celtic fairy lore are mixed with Appalachian flavor. But whereThe Cats of Tanglewood Forest was very episodic and had lots and lots of different magical people and their ways, this one has a much more streamlined plot and focuses on just a few magical people as well as the seven sisters of the story, all held together with Vess’ lovely full-color illustrations. This was a satisfying story of the perils of crossing the boundaries between the human and magical worlds.