Kevin Patrick McCann is an excellent poet, and has recently written a novel for young adults.
We first meet ten year old Patrick on his birthday, and we learn that he has terrible nightmares and is a sensitive loner who likes making up stories in his head, rather than playing with the other kids. His mum worries, but the doc says it’s just a faze. His Uncle Liam talks to him about Irish magic, and suggests that if he knows he’s dreaming, then he could actively wish for other things to happen. A small cat turns up to his new house, and also an eccentric artist, who sells Pat a painting of a panther, which Uncle Liam thinks will be perfect for seeing off Nightmares.
A while later, Pat goes on a school nature ramble in the local woods, when the cat re-appears, and he follows it off the path and strange things happen. He’s flying blind into the mist, a panther snarls, snowflakes fall, and he encounters a small, thin, pale boy, who says his name is Of No Importance, Ov for short. When it’s time for Pat to go, Ov shows him how to spin back to his own world, and the nature ramble.
It’s an unsettled time at home for Pat, and he is drawn to being with Ov, who lives in a fairy rath on the other side of the fog. They go back to the past, to the big house in the woods and meet the owner, whom they see as a boy and as a man. They see the manifestation of malice, feeding on cruelty and fear. The man seems wicked, so will they help him? More importantly, there’s a terrifying evil entity abroad, who enslaves the dead and is looking for a human host. Patrick and Ov need to embark on a rescue mission to Somewhere in the Other Place.
This is a gorgeous book, and sometimes quite frightening. Yes, it’s a fantasy adventure story, but like all good writing, it’s also about the realms and lessons of love, forgiveness, fear, trust, inner child healing, and the need to toughen up through the challenges of life. A great story for all children, especially those who are eccentric or sensitive, troubled or bullied.
Claire Lewis Victor