I'm thrilled to be part of the blog tour for Anna Hoghton's fantastic new MG adventure. 'Orla and the Wild Hunt' is exciting, gorgeously- imaginative and tender-hearted. It brilliantly pulls you into the tangled magic and mayhem of Irish folklore and mythology with oodles of atmosphere and larger-than-life characters that are difficult to forget. With musings on grief and a wonderful message about courageously holding on to the relationships that matter, 'Orla and the Wild Hunt' is a must-read for this summer.
Orla and her brother go to stay with their gran in Ireland. Grieving the death of their mum, the children revel in the comfort of their grandmother's house and her magical storytelling. But soon after they arrive, Gran vanishes. Helped by a local boy - and a peculiar creature found in the garden shed - they set out to find her. Shadowed by a shape-shifting darkness known as the Wild Hunt, the children - and especially Orla - must put their sadness behind them if they're to rescue their beloved gran...
Firstly, I am absolutely drawn to this book because my nearly two-year-old daughter is also called Orla. It's not a common name where I live in Watford, England, but it's owing to her Irish heritage on her mum's side. And if my Orla grows up to be half as brave as this book's Orla I will be a very happy daddy! I really loved the cast of characters here: Orla, her brother Apollo, their Gran and the mischievous Pooka. There is a lot of warmth underneath the spiky exchanges and in spite of the tension and the grief felt since Orla's mum passed away. Anna Hoghton brilliantly lays a trail of clues that sweep the reader up in a fairy-tale like adventure across mythic Ireland that manages to be scary, tense, funny and endearing all at once. It is something of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' meets the whimsy and darker aspects of Irish mythology. Fans of 'The Storm Keeper's Island' will relish references to Fionn and Dagma and others in a new context - and I really admired how Anna Hoghton weaves it all together to say something about grief and connection.
I'm ashamed to say I never got around to reading Anna Hoghton's debut 'The Masks of Aribella' and now I really need to! For sure!
Thank you to Chicken House Books and Laura Smythe for my copy of the book to review.