Book Reviews

Please Note: this is now a separate blog found at elizabethramsay.weebly.com. Sadly, it did not work well as a page, nor did the reviews fit with the more analytical direction of this blog.

R’Etahl and Jurielle, Book 1, Guardian Appointed

Rebecca Reynolds

An exercise in world building, Reynolds’ story creates a world where human men rule, women serve them, and alien Druins are slaves. Jurielle is the pampered daughter of a business mogul who has been trained all her life to be the perfect doll. R’Etahl is her Druin bodyguard, raised since birth to value her life over his own.

It is unclear what the actual story is in this piece of writing. There are several possibilities raised, though none are developed. This may be the start of a series about the overthrowing of an oppressive, slaving owning, patriarchy. The problem with this is there is no one in the story who has a problem with the way thing are run. However, this storyline is suggested by whispers of a mysterious rebellion. The story may be a romance. Possible romances are between Jurielle and Marcus (the son of her father’s business partner) or Jurielle and R’Etahl, suggested by the title and R’Etahl’s dreams, or a double romance between Jurielle and Marcus and R’Etahl and an unnamed servant whom he interacts with. There are also elements of a suspense novel as Jurielle appears to have picked up a stalker, who seems driven, though vaguely so, to keep her away from Marcus. However, as none of these potential plot lines are developed and none of the problems facing the characters are resolved the reader is left at a loss as to what the story is about.

What does occur is the creation of a fantasy world in which two planets orbit each other. This suggests that the story is an exercise in world building that needs development before it becomes a novella. The flow is choppy and it is a deeply confusing read.

McGillicuddy McGotham: 60th Anniversary Edition

By Leonard Wibberley

Cover art by Alden A. Watson

1956, 2016

“Timothy Patrick Fergus Kevin Sean Desmond McGillicuddy, for short” is a Leprechaun who has come from the “old sod” of Ireland to New York City as an ambassador for the Leprechauns (10). New World Airlines is attempting to extend the runway at Foynes. The problem is that the new runway will cover land owned by the Leprechauns including the place where McGillicuddy’s own pot of gold is buried. The Leprechauns, having been at war with each other for two hundred and fifty years, are loath to declare war on America and have sent McGillicuddy to negotiate with the King of America on their behalf. Unfortunately, McGillicuddy is trapped in the “Black Bog of Manhattan” as soon as he gets off the plane from Ireland (11). This accident forces McGillicuddy to summon an Irish man for help. Ten-year-old Brain O’Connor answers McGillicuddy’s summons and rescues him from the used chewing gum.

The two proceed to form an alliance as Leprechauns can only be seen by the Irish, and even then only one person at a time can see them. McGillicuddy thus elects Brain as his spokesperson since neither the president nor the board of New World Airlines are Irish. In her search for information on Leprechauns, New World Airlines secretary Miss Tottenal contacts Brian and meets McGillicuddy. She then brings them to meet Mr. Cnitweitz, the man in charge of building the runway in Foynes, and from there McGillicuddy is able to open negotiations. In spite of the facts that leprechauns are notoriously impatient, and that Brian is only ten years old, McGillicuddy is able to meet the President, and convey his concerns about the runway. McGillicuddy gives himself the names McGotham after his meeting with the President.

Since this is the 60th Anniversary Edition there is bonus content in the form of an introductory letter by Quentin Fottrell who is an Irish author and journalist. There is also a letter from Rosalind Russell discussing the possibility of converting the book into a musical titled “Little Mac.” Though this never moved past the planning stages it is a fascinating glimpse into the life-cycle of the text.

McGillicuddy McGotham is already a classic children’s story in Ireland, and it is long past time for it to take the rest of the world by storm. Despite being written in the 1950s it has a timeless feel to it that is only seen in truly great writing. I strongly recommend this story to readers of all ages. McGilllicuddy is an irreverent, and overly proud representative of the people of Erin, but the reader can’t help sympathize with his plight. In a world where far too often big business runs roughshod over the little guy it is nice to see a literal little guy get his own back. There are also far too few stories in which both parties triumph. Wibberley manages to give both sides what they want, and allows them to reach an agreement without resorting to violence, while still telling a good story.

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