I love the blogosphere. I professed my lifelong love of Eloise Jarvis McGraw in this post, and Jenny asked if I’d read Greensleeves, one of her lesser-known titles. I hadn’t even heard of it. I did some investigation, and found that it wasn’t in print, my library doesn’t have it, and copies are going for $40 or more online (a bit beyond my price range). But while looking around I discovered that McGraw had written MANY books that I didn’t know about, one of which was The Moorchild, an award-winner. Take a great author, add a fairy story, and then price the paperback at under $5, and I’m sold. And I just happened to win a Book Depository gift card in a blog contest at the right time, so…yay! Did I mention that I love the blogosphere? Yeah, that.
Half moorfolk and half human, and unable to shape-shift or disappear at will, Moql threatens the safety of the Band. So the Folk send her to live among humans as a changeling. Named Saaski by the couple for whose real baby she was swapped, she grows up taunted and feared by the villagers for being different, and is comfortable only on the moor, playing strange music on her bagpipes.
As Saaski grows up, memories from her forgotten past with the Folk slowly emerge. When mystery of her past is revealed, Saaski must make hard choices and face danger in many forms.
The Moorchild is Saaski’s story. Saaski is a changeling, though she doesn’t know it. The story of her eventual knowledge and recollection of how she came to be a changeling form the bulk of the story. I think the summary tells you most of what you need to know about the plot. What I can add are comments on the beauty of the language, the varied context of the story (which gives you enough detail, but not too much to ruin any surprises or wonderings) and the absolute suck-you-into-the-tale quality that McGraw books seem to have as a trademark.
The story is set in an indeterminate village on the edge of the moor. That doesn’t sound exciting, does it? Well, it might you have a thing for ‘the moor’ like I did after reading The Secret Garden one too many times as a child. But say you don’t have an over-developed sense of romance about the moor already. McGraw’s description will inspire a sense of longing to see it, to feel it and to hear it. The prose is effortless and yet holds deep emotion.
That’s what I can say about The Moorchild. It’s fraught: with confusion, with sorrow, with loveliness and just a touch of mischief.
Best of all? It’s a story suitable for all ages. I’d recommend The Moorchild to those interested in: ridiculously good children’s fiction, myths and legends, fairy tales, family dynamics and a taste of the wildness that lives in all of us.