by O.R. Melling
When Dana’s father tells her that they are leaving Ireland and moving to his homeland in Canada, Dana is shocked and upset. Besides the normal concerns about leaving friends and moving to a strange place, Dana doesn’t want to leave Ireland because she worries that her mother, who disappeared when Dana was three years old, won’t be able to find them in Canada if she ever comes back. Then Dana meets an unusual lady in the forest, who promises Dana her heart’s desire if she will carry a message to the faerie second-in-command, the King of the Mountain who is trapped in a mountain by his own grief. Although Dana fears going into the wilderness alone, she’s willing to take the challenge if it means that she will get her mother back. Dana faces many dangers in the mountains, not least of which is the evil demon pursuing her in the guise of a human. Only her spirit and her determination to find her mother will help her reach her goal. But what Dana finds in the mountains may not be what she expected.
Like its predecessors, The Hunter’s Moon and The Summer King,The Light-Bearer’s Daughter is a beautifully written book that deals with the relationship between the mortal and faerie realms. Where The Summer King had a theme dealing with death, The Light-Bearer’s Daughter deals with the pain of separation from loved ones. It also has a strong environmental theme, which, while I agree with it, gets a little heavy-handed at times. The cast of characters is interesting and well-rounded, both the humans and the various denizens of the Faerie realm, from a powerfully maternal wolf to the delightfully childlike boggles. Many readers will see the ending coming—the title practically gives it away—but knowing what Dana will find makes it no less poignant when she does.
Each book in this series stands alone, and The Light-Bearer’s Daughter is no exception. Each book has a different protagonist and a separate story. The Light-Bearer’s Daughter is a little more strongly tied to The Summer King than that book was to The Hunter’s Moon, but one need not have read the other books to have read this one. Melling did that intentionally, because she hates to pick up an interesting book and then discover that it’s a later book in a series.
One interesting tidbit is that Melling says that there is a book behind each of her books which inspired that book and is its soul. For the Light-Bearer’s Daughter, the book behind the book is Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles.
Also, see our Interview with O.R. Melling from last year.