Niamh and the Hermit
I began my second career as a reviewer of entertainment many years ago and since that time have read quite a diverse and interesting array of publications. When I was first approached to read a fairytale all those years ago, it took me by surprise. At my age, I had felt I had long outgrown them. When I was told that the book came from ARX Publishing, I decided to give it a chance, having been a fan of other books from the same publishing company.
Niamh and the Hermit is written and illustrated by Emily C. A. Snyder, a writer, web designer and teacher of both English and acting. The illustrations in the book are testimony to Snyderís artistic talent, depicting different characters in the book in remarkable detail.
Niamh and the Hermit is a tale set in a time when kings and fairies ruled the land. Niamh is a princess tormented by her beauty - a beauty that in itself is a destructive force, driving men mad with want of her. Every suitor that has come calling has been driven to distraction by her beauty to such a point that they become insane or commit suicide. Thus, the kingdom has become dismayed as Niamh is the kingís only child. Who will continue the line if no one is able to even approach the Princess without suffering such a fate?
In their quest to find a bridegroom for the Princess, the kingdom turns to a being plagued with the opposite affliction. The Hermit is quite a site to behold with claws and wings of an eagle and the head and tale of a lion, attributes rivaled only by his skill as a magician and his humble nature. Through his mysterious powers, he visits with his betrothed and they soon find themselves falling in love. The kingdom rejoices, until their hopes are shattered by evil as the Count, an evil and twisted man since having lost his son to Niamhís beauty, has set forth a plan to destroy Niamh and thus extract revenge for his loss. What follows is a tale filled with magic and mystery as we follow our characters through adventures that eventually bring them full circle.
The novel is written in the style of old English that would be used in King Arthurís court or in any Tolkien novel. In fact, I was greatly reminded of Tolkienís stories as I read this book. The adventures cross many lands and adversities abound, all met with grim determination by the characters. Many a genre is covered in this story as Snyder has chosen to combine mythological beings, biblical references, fantasy and fable to tell her tale.
I found myself instantly hooked on the tale from the first or second page. I wanted to know whether the princess would finally find happiness, what the story was behind the Hermitís deformities, what the Count was planning for Niamh, and more. The entire tale was written beautifully and would be enjoyed by both young and old. I heartily recommend Niamh and the Hermit to anyone who loves novels filled with fantasy, love, and adventure.