Title: A Different Kingdom
Author: Paul Kearney
What if there WERE Little People in the woods, like in the stories Rose told him? What if there were wolves and bears and trolls, wicked witches-and faeries too? But not ones that lived in flowers. What if they were big and silent and gleeful, more like goblins? They would have a goblin kingdom, castles and mines. And there would be knights in armor with swords and women in towers with long hair. What if it were all real, all true?
When Michael is a young boy growing up in rural Ireland, he sees things that other people don’t. Fox men by the river, a beautiful girl with bright green eyes, huge wolves that can walk upright like men…But when he tells his family what he sees, they don’t believe him. So Michael keeps it to himself. Until the day the bright-eyed girl comes to his window and invited him into her world for an adventure. It is a world of wonder and danger, a world of friend and foe alike, one that he barely escapes from with his life. Years later, Michael is a paunchy almost thirty year old, who uses alcohol to dim the memories of that Other Place, that Wild Wood. But even living in the city, in a different country, he finds that some memories are not so easy to run from. And sometimes the past catches up to you.
“Who is to say where you are? Some say there is a different world for every story ever told or untold that there is no such thing as the here and now, only the unfolding of infinite possibilities, all of them real in some place or another…”
You know when you find a book, a really special book, and you can’t help but read it at breakneck speed because you can’t wait to see what happens next but at the same time you hate yourself for reading it so fast because you want it to last forever? Yep. That sums this book up perfectly. There are fantasy books, and then there are FANTASY books. You know the ones I’m talking about. The ones that are just so absolutely fantastic that you know they are going to stay with you for a long time. I can’t say enough about this book. It just blew all my expectations away with its awesomeness. I have never read anything by Paul Kearney before, this was my first book by him and I must say that I was very impressed. One thing that will automatically endear me to a fantasy novel is the writing style. I have a big weak spot for writing that is fluid, descriptive, and beautiful. It doesn’t have to be overly fancy (Stephen Donaldson sometimes falls into this trap which makes me roll my eyes) but if it grabs my heart with simple beauty I am usually held spellbound.
For example, this passage here:
He scampered away, the wet grass beginning to be felt through his old shoes. It would be hot today, and there would be dragonflies by the river. The grass was ablaze with buttercups, so that they sat in a gently swaying yellow sea, and the pollen was already beginning to powder his legs.
And also this one for example:
The earth slowed, wound down to a darker season. In the hedges be-dewed spiders’ webs swayed and swung like strung pearls, and the early light caught them in a dance of linked gems.
You see what I mean? So beautiful and descriptive! I fell head over heels in love with this story through its writing. The characters were all quite interesting also, however. It was fascinating to see Michael, who started out as an ordinary young person, grow and change and learn through his course of traveling through the Wildwood with Cat and the Fox people. I don’t want to give away too much more about the plot because there are quite a few twists and surprises that make the story all the more interesting. However I will say that this is not your normal fantasy story. It is at times, gritty, dark, and violent. Not all fairies are good. Not all damsels in distress are meant to be rescued, and most importantly of all…
Fairytales have teeth.