Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Bell at Sealey Head-Patricia A. McKillip

The Bell at Sealey Head
Patricia A. McKillip
Ace, Sep 2008, $23.95
ISBN: 9780441016303

The small fishing village of Sealey Head is not quite the quiet quaint place that visitors believe they see. Everyday at the last moment of sunset, a bell rings out but no one knows its origin or who is ringing the bell. Lady Eglantyne inhabits the grandest home Aislinn House in the village; she knows her days are ending soon and there is nothing the healer or herbalist can do that can prevent her demise.

The herbalist’s daughter’s maid Emma knows there is another Aislinn House within the one in the mortal realm; that resides in a realm filled with knights and rituals performed everyday. Emma has seen glimpses of this medieval world when she opens a door to find the Princess Yarbo inside the room; yet her highness cannot cross into the mortal realm.

Scholar Ridley Dole comes to the village fascinated with Aislinn House as he believes the place is under a spell where the inhabitants are regimented like puppets whose strings are being pulled. Ridley’s ancestor Nemos Moore used magic to link the Aislinn Houses; he hopes to undo his work to save the people, but is unsure how and remains ignorant to a malevolent person hiding in plain sight who will kill him to insure the status quo remains.

Patricia A. McKillip is a brilliant fantasist who makes her two Aislinn Houses and their connection seem real. There are many interesting characters, not all human for instance the titled Bell, in this ensemble tale. Readers will ponder the source of the bell and what it means to both sides of the portal especially if it fails to ring. Somewhat a high fantasy with a minor romantic subplot, THE BELL AT SEALEY HEAD is a fabulous thriller that grips the audience from the first time the bell peals as fans will wonder “For Whom the Bell Tolls” if the ringing stops.

Harriet Klausner

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