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Monday, June 20, 2011

'Silvermay' by James Moloney

Received from the Publisher

From the BLURB:

Sixteen-year-old Silvermay Hawker feels drawn to the newcomer in her village - a young man of solemn good looks named Tamlyn. But only heartache can come of this, because Tamlyn is devoted to Nerigold and to little Lucien, her son.

So things seem, until the dark forces of Coyle Strongbow come in search of Nerigold′s baby and Silvermay is swept up in the young family′s escape. When Lucien is entrusted to her care, she discovers the startling horror of what he might become, and the truth about Tamlyn, too.

Can Lucien be spared his fate, or is he doomed to become like Coyle? And Tamlyn, can he be trusted, can he be loved and can he love in return? Silvermay′s heart will not give him up, but what happens when devotion becomes a weapon in the hands of the ruthless?

Silvermay Hawker’s life is forever changed when a fleeing couple enter her village. A young man named Tamlyn (masquerading as Piet) and his wife, Nerigold, whom has recently given birth to a son. Nerigold is near death when she and Tamlyn come to the village, and it is Silverymay’s kind, healer mother who nurses her back to health. The town elders frown upon Nerigold and Tamlyn having a child out of wedlock, but the Hawker’s welcome the young couple into their home and as Silvermay looks after the little baby, nicknamed ‘Smiler’, she comes to care deeply for this travelling family.

But as the days pass, Silvermay begins to notice uneasiness in the young, handsome Tamlyn. He is wary of the tax-collectors who come on the King’s behalf. He watches the skies for sign of messenger birds. And he sits vigil outside the Hawker house at night.

When it comes time for Tamlyn, Nerigold and little Smiler to leave, Silvermay is adamant she goes with them – to help care for the baby, and a still weak Nerigold. But agreeing to journey with this couple will put Silvermay’s heart, and life, at risk . . . for as she falls deeper and deeper in love with the mysterious and forbidden Tamlyn, she also learns that the couple are fleeing Coyle Strongbow – a most dangerous man to have on your tail.

‘Silvermay’ is the first novel in James Moloney’s new young adult fantasy trilogy.

It has been a long time since I've read a James Moloney novel. He was a staple of my high school reading life, and I can still vividly remember pouring over ‘A Bridge to Wiseman’s Cove’ and discussing ‘The Book of Lies’. So it was with great expectation and excitement that I read ‘Silvermay’, from one of the greats of Australian young adult literature. And I am thoroughly delighted to report that it’s as brilliant as I had hoped.

The book opens on one of the most powerfully disturbing prologues I have ever had the spine-tingling pleasure to read. Narrated by Silvermay as she recounts the day that changed her life, we are privy to the dark thoughts which now haunt her in the aftermath of change. And most awful of all is the confession that Silvermay boldly admits;

Or should I tell you, instead, that I've held a blanket over a baby’s face to smother it, and to this day I’m not entirely sure I was wrong to do it?

Thus begins Moloney’s haunting fantasy tale of a young woman caught in the middle of political and magical upheaval.

Silvermay is our protagonist on this epic journey, and she is quite the warrior woman in training. We read Silvermay’s conflicting youth; as a young woman falling in love for the first time, but whose girlish fantasies are interrupted by a journey of great import that will see her risk her life for people she barely knows, but quickly trusts. I loved Silvermay. She’s heroic and bold, loyal and observant. But I especially love her for being a little player in a big story. Silvermay is almost like a footnote in history – an unsuspecting girl whose presence in a baby’s life will change the course of history. The fact that she is just a girl from a village, the daughter of a healer and bird-trainer, makes her presence in the novel so much more meaningful for being accidental.

I also loved Silvermay and Tamlyn’s romance. This marks Silvermay’s real transition to womanhood – as she develops feelings the wrong man, but will face all sorts of danger for the sake of him. Talk about epic. Moloney touches on notes of longing and bravery with regards to Silvermay and her unrequited love the Tamlyn . . . and their romance is further complicated when Silvermay learns the truth of him.

If sleep had been out of reach before I ventured into the night air, afterwards it fled to another kingdom. We had stood beneath the moon and spoken of love. Not a love between him and me; of course not. I wasn’t pretending for a moment that we had. But even to say the word out loud to any man was a first for me, and, no matter how I told myself otherwise, there had been an intimacy in the things we’d said that seemed stronger than any of the girlish dreams I'd painted inside my head since he arrived in the village.

One of the best aspects of the book are the dark villains and magical monsters chasing after the travellers. In this world the bogeyman who strike fear into the hearts of children everywhere are called Wyrdborn, and they are at Coyle Strongbow’s beck and call. The Wyrdborn are wizards, with dark magic and unimaginable power. Moloney has made these wizards as pervasively evil as possible, partly through the mystery surrounding them. All Silvermay knows of the Wyrdborn is what she has heard in stories and gossip – rumours of girls who are taken from villages and spend time in the Wyrdborn castles, only to leave months later with no remembrance of their time, but a loss of innocence.
Coupled with Coyle Strongbow, ‘Silvermay’ has no shortage of evil. Here is a man with nefarious, but unknowing purposes. And it’s only when Silvermay comes to understand more about the baby Smiler that she sees a connection to the dangerous and dogged Coyle Strongbow . . .

I adored Moloney’s new fantasy novel. ‘Silvermay’ is set on an epic and fantastical scale, with a simple village girl at the centre of it all. This is a wonderful novel, with an empowered and courageous young woman to carry the story of upheaval. I can’t wait for the second and third novels, Tamlyn, will be released in June, 2012 and the third book, Lucien, the year after.


1 comment:

  1. oh i grew up on james moloney too *hi five!*

    really cannot wait to get into this book ... it sounds so fabulous (and i know he is an amazing writer)


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