The One that Started It All

BLTonyGIn “Books I Loved” I will share with you one of my beloved books. The ones that have touched me for one reason or another and remain with me always. No reviews or critique, just pure book love in the hope of perhaps helping someone find a new piece of their book soul.

When I was 10 years old – before I knew what fantasy was, before there was Harry Potter or The Golden Compass – this was the story I read and dreamed about and loved. The one that, so to speak, started it all.

“The Hounds of the Mórrígan” by Pat O’Shea is a relatively unknown book. I occasionally come across Irishmen who remember having read it in school or a children’s fantasy enthusiast, who has at least heard of the story, but rarely have I met anyone who loves this book as much as I do.

“‘Whoever would have thought that the old manuscript in the bookstore could have led them into the journey of a lifetime? This was no fairy story: it was a real quest of good versus evil in which Pidge and his sister Brigit were the crusaders. Their journey began in Ireland, but the destination unknown…”

A brother and sister living in Ireland become involved in the most magical and frightening adventure, that includes talking frogs, evil hounds, a swapping market, magical charm bracelets, and not least heroes and villains from Irish mythology.
A wonderfully wrought tale of the beauty and darkness of both the world as we know it and the world behind the veil. A book with an enticing dreamlike feel that draws you in and makes you believe that anything and everything could happen, and that the next adventure is waiting just around the corner. Or in a dusty bookstore that appeared suddenly in your sleepy town, where you might stumble upon an ancient book containing something that should not be unleashed…

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Despite being a children’s book, “The Hounds of the Mórrígan” has very well-written dialogue, genuine and rounded characters and a big and ambitious scope. Somehow, O’Shea manages to immerse the reader in Irish folktales without ever losing the wonder and simplicity of the children’s story, and equally shows the light and dark sides of involving oneself with mythological tales and beings.

And while my adult eyes perhaps see some of the less-than-perfectness, my heart at any age is swept away with Pidge and Bridget every time, as we run from the Mórrígan’s hounds with our hearts in our throats, have magical encounters with Cúchulainn and visit with the folk in the hidden valley.

The Hounds of the Mórrígan by Pat O’Shea, published in 1987 by Puffin Books

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