Travel Guide to Fairy

A Review of O.R. Melling’s The Hunter’s Moon (In The Chronicles of Faerie, Penguin Canada, 2000)

Cover photo for the Chronicles of Faerie courtesy of
Cover photo for the Chronicles of Faerie courtesy of

By Derek Newman-Stille

O.R. Melling’s The Hunter’s Moon explores the idea of place and landscape saturated with the mythic and the historical, the overlapping realms of reality that are facilitated by time and story-telling. Two cousins – Findabhair and Gwen – linked by family, by name, and by a mutual desire to explore the mythic are brought together when Gwen visits her cousin Findabhair in Ireland. Both girls use myth and legend as a guidebook for their exploration of Ireland… and, in a sense, for their travel through two overlapping Irelands – one modern, and one a timeless, secret place.

After sleeping on a fairy mound to try to witness the magical, Findabhair is kidnapped by the fey and Gwen is set on a mythic quest to find her cousin while experiencing the intersection of the ordinary world and the extraordinary world that lay within it. The fairies they encounter are simultaneously interacting with the modern (and doing things like driving cars) while at odd with the modern and feeling out of place.

The fairies are not the only ones out of place. This is novel about the diverse ways that people can find ideas of belonging. The reality of modern Ireland interferes with Gwen’s romantic and fanciful notions of Ireland, and she comes to terms with the idea that Ireland can be fanciful and real at the same time, that it is impossible to separate the magical from the mundane world. Nothing is as it seems and everything is open to question and suffused with an element of surprise.

This is an empowering narrative of girls on adventure, finding themselves in fantasy and flights of imagination as they battle stereotypes and discover inner strengths that they didn’t realise they were suppressing.

To find out more about O.R. Melling, you can visit her website at and you can find out more about The Chronicles of Faerie at .

Derek Newman-Stille

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