Niamh and the Hermit: A Fairy Tale
Emily C. A. Snyder
Arx Publishing, 276 pp.
If the Brothers Grimm had been raised in Ireland, they probably would have written tales like this one. Niamh is the story of a Celtic halfling princess, too beautiful to behold. With no suitors able to withstand her beauty, Niamh is betrothed to a reclusive magician who has been cursed with a bestial form—he has the claws and wings of an eagle and the head and tail of a lion. His letters cause the princess to fall in love with him, but before he can arrive at the castle a vengeful count places a curse on Niamh and has her banished from the kingdom. In true fantasy form, a quest ensues to return the princess to the castle so that she can marry the Hermit. Along the way they encounter fairies, a Wolf King, an evil witch, an enchanted lake, and plenty of peasants. Blending Celtic mythology with a classic fairy tale structure and throwing in a dash of Tolkien, Snyder’s book provides a full banquet for your starving inner child. My biggest concern about this book is that the unusual Celtic names and the “thou mayest” writing style could scare off some of the younger crowd that would otherwise be the natural audience for this type of book. Snyder does remedy this somewhat though with very helpful appendices that include character descriptions and name pronunciations as well as a series of maps of the kingdom.