The Grey Horse

R.A. MacAvoy

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Ok, let’s get this out of the way. The names are impossible. I like to hear the names in my head asĀ  I read, and I almost quit this book early. The author provides a pronunciation guide at the beginning, but it doesn’t help. I soldiered on anyway. It’s not bad enough to struggle through the Irish names, but it seems that each character also has an English name. The main character, the grey horse of the title is named Ruairi MacEibhir, or Rory MacEever, and his friend is named Anrai O Reachtaire or Henry Raftery. The third main character is Tadhg O Murchu, or Tim Murphy, the priest.

I’m glad I persevered, because this is one of the most delightful, inventive novels I have read this year. Set in times past, the Irish people suffer under the oppression of English overlords. Into the little town of Carraroe, steps a magnificent white stallion. You may be confused unless you know that unless a horse is an albino, white horses are called grey. It is the shape-shifting Ruairi come to seek a wife.

The story that follows is full pure magic. Fortunately, MacAvoy has written several books, and I intend to read them all.

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Blackbird House

Alice Hoffman

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I love Alice Hoffman, whether she is writing novels or short stories. Blackbird House is a collection of short stories, all linked by their connection to Blackbird House in Massachusetts over 200 years. The stories take you away to a different time and place, always with Hoffman’s easy familiarity with human nature.

The Thread That Binds the Bones

Nina Kiriki Hoffman

The Thread That Binds the Bones (The Chapel Hollow Novels) by [Hoffman, Nina Kiriki]

Those Chapel Hollow people are different, but it doesn’t do to remark on it. People who do, well strange things happen to them. Best just pretend you don’t see. That’s what the people in Arcadia do. Best not to stir things up.

Then a drifter, name of Tom Renfield, comes to town. People like him, but they figure he won’t be around long. Drifters come, and drifters go. He probably wouldn’t stay around long if it hadn’t been for Laura. She’s come back to town for a wedding at Chapel Hollow and hires Tom to drive her there. That’s the beginning.

Seems that Tom, while not of Chapel Hollow, has some powers of his own. Powers as strong as any of the Chapel Hollow people.

This delightful book by Hoffman explores the people of Chapel Hollow and their relationship with the small town of Arcadia in a delightful mix of magic realism and love.

The Rules of Magic

Alice Hoffman

The Rules of Magic: A Novel by [Hoffman, Alice]

Thanks to Netgalley for ARC.

Three magical children escape the oppressive life under their parents to spend the summer with their aunt Isabelle in her home in a small town where the family ostracized by most of the citizens. Occasionally a woman knocks on the door to ask Isabelle for a potion or a love charm, but otherwise they are left alone.

The three children grow up trying to deal with the growth of their own powers. Franny, the oldest, holds on to logic and scientific theory to deny what is happening, until she is forced to face her own power. Jet, the middle child, loses her ability to know what people are thinking, after a traumatic incident. Vincent, the youngest, deals with his ability to read the future by trying to drown his knowledge in drugs and alcohol.

Ultimately this story is the story of the power of love to harm us and heal us.