by Patch O'Furr
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Magnificats: Return of the Demon Wind, by Gwyn Dolyn. Illustrated, map by the author.
La Jolla, CA, Plowshare Media, January 2017, trade paperback, $15.95 ([11 +] 239 [+ 9] pages), Kindle $3.95.
Magnificats is an unusual mixture of Young Adult fantasy and several specialized ethnic vocabularies, beginning with both faerie mythology and commonplace Irishisms; not to mention Big Words that aren’t in most Young Adult novels. 13-year-old redhaired Aoife “Apple” Standish, taunted as Red Apple Stand by her classmates in today’s Dublin, is blown by a sheegee wind to where a Magnificat is watching.
“Meanwhile, just down the street and past the cheese shop where her brother worked, Tak, the lanky old cat who lived under the ancient parish church on Apple’s route to school, sensed something awry in the autumn air. This sheegee was a concern. Sniffing, he tickled the air with his whiskers, then remarked, ‘Hmm. Interesting autumn wind; deliberate, with a stench of malice.’
While Tak was indeed a cat, he was not your everyday, meowing, rodent-chasing, scratching-up-the-furniture sort of cat. He was the leader (to be exact, Littern) of a clandestine order of numinous nine-life cats, known far and wide in creature kingdoms as Magnificats – keepers of sacred knowledge and masters of the winds.” (pgs. 1-2)
Dolyn peppers her novel with obscure words, Irish at first and later Egyptian, then others. “The strange sight of a girl caught in a whirlwind caused car screeching, men’s caubeens flying, and children diving for cover under their mums’ waving skirts.” (p. 4) Wikipedia defines a caubeen as an Irish peasant beret. “Gwyllion” is another Celtic magical word used a lot in just the first chapter – strangely, Wikipedia says it’s from Welsh mythology, not Irish. (It’s all Celtic.) Some other Irishisms in Chapter 1 that aren’t mythology-based are hooligan, shamrock, shenanigan, Finn-McCool, and gobsmacked. But when Apple goes to Egypt with other students on an archaeological dig, the vocabulary switches to Egyptian. “‘Hey App,’ Dan’s voice echoed across the flat sand, ‘we’re going to wrap this up. The winds are getting bad; looks like a haboob coming.’” (p. 29) You’ll learn more about cultures, winds, and mythologies (especially Irish) than you wanted to know: