By Che Golden
Available now from Quercus
THE FERAL CHILD is a story of imagination, loyalty, and bravery inspired by Irish folklore. Orphan Maddy lives with her grandparents, and has been acting out some (understandably). When she first encounters a strange boy in the woods, she doesn't know what's happening. But when he kidnaps Stephen, the toddler next door, she sees him for what he is: a faery.
Maddy sets out to save Stephen accompanied only by her dog and her Grandpa's stories, but her cousins join her. (They're a bit over their heads, as they meant to keep her from getting into trouble, not getting involved with actual, existing faeries.) The adults won't do anything, because they think Stephen has been found due to a changeling left in his place.
There is nothing particularly new done with the mythology, but Maddy's journey is still captivating. She has a lot of inner turmoil that needs to heal. The adventures are fun in and of themselves, too. Watching the children try to outwit the clever and devious faeries is a treat - especially because Maddy isn't always the one who has the good ideas. Her cousin Roisin, in particular, becomes integral to the quest's success.
The ending felt a touch rushed to me. The opening of THE FERAL CHILD takes its time setting up Maddy's life in Ireland, the woods, the strange encounter that becomes stranger. There is no time at the end, however, for wrapping up the plot about Maddy's overbearing aunt who wants to take custody. There is lots of sequel bait, so perhaps that is saved as an ongoing plot.
THE FERAL CHILD will appeal to young fans of fairytales and folklore.