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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Seven Wild Sisters by Charles de Lint

Seven Wild Sisters by Charles de Lint, Illustrated by Charles Vess. Burton, Mississippi: Subterranean Press, 2002. ISBN: 1-931081-33-6

This is a truly delightful, slightly hair raising tale of seven red-haired sisters who stumble into the middle of a feud between the 'sangmen (ginseng fairies) and the bee fairies. And as anyone who has ever dealt with the land of faerie knows, it's not a good idea to get mixed up in other people's business, especially feuds. But the story naturally has a happy ending.

Actually, the story is mostly about, and told from the point of view of Sarah Jane Dillard. Sarah Jane is the third of the sisters, with a pair of twins just before her, and another pair as the youngest of the girls. Sarah Jane has a double name, because her mother thought she might be twins, too, and had two names ready, just in case. When only Sarah Jane appeared, she got stuck with both names.

Sarah Jane makes the acquaintance of an old woman who lives all by herself up in the hills behind the Dillard's farm, with no electricity, no running water, and has a reputation as an eccentric, if not worse. But Aunt Lillian, as she styles herself, seems pretty ordinary to Sarah Jane, except that she tells her tales of the strange creatures than inhabit the hills, creatures from the other side, the realm of faerie. Like the Apple Tree Man who lives in the oldest apple tree in her orchard. Or the “father of cats,” who most often appears as a big black panther, but who can also appear as a man, tall, dark, and handsome.

But the denouement of the story deals with the aforesaid feud. It seems that the bee fairy princesses have been running off and marrying the sangmen, and the bee fairy queen doesn't like it. How Sarah Jane and Aunt Lilian, and eventually the rest of the seven sisters all get involved is what the story is about.

If you like magical stories at all, you'll love this one. It seems especially aimed at young adults, teens, if you will, especially those of the female persuasion, but I bet most anyone of any age, or either sex, will enjoy this story. Author de Lint has a homely (in the best sense of that word) way of writing that gets under your skin, and won't let go. Highly recommended.

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