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Robin Muller.
Toronto, ON: Doubleday Canada, 1991.
32pp., cloth, $17.00,

ISBN 0-385-25305-2. CIP.

Grades 1-6 / Ages 6-11

Reviewed by Jane Robinson.

Volume 20 Number 3
1992 May

Robin Muller's stories are all based on folk-tales or fairy-tales. A knack for choosing themes from this universally appealing genre that are worth retelling yet a bit different gives him a good head start.

His penchant for strong female characters, for example, is evident in this latest book entitled The Nightwood. Based on a Celtic folk-tale, it tells about a young girl named Elaine who defies her elders' warnings and enters an enchanted wood to dance. Once there, Elaine falls in love with Tamlynne, who is under the spell of the powerful Elfin Queen. Elaine learns what she must do in order to free Tamlynne and, with complete self-sacrifice, she sets out on All Hallows' Eve to match her strength against that of the queen's. Happily, mortal love proves stronger than elfin magic and the story doses with the traditional fairy-tale ending.

The narrative is rich and true to the language of the period, but it is through his illustrations that Muller actually takes his readers to the Nightwood, shows them the magic of the elfin world and its effect on the mortal world, shows them Elaine's beauty, steadfastness and bravery, and shows them the power of the Elfin Queen.

The Nightwood might appear to demand a lot from its readers. There is a lot of text, it's a sometimes dark and scary tale, and the illustrations are as intricate as tapestries, but if read aloud, or recommended to a confident reader, it will surely be enjoyed.

Highly recommended.

Jane Robinson Winnipeg, MB.
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