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Friday, March 5, 2010

Merlin's Harp by Anne Eliot Crompton

Merlin’s Harp by Anne Eliot Crompton
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Historical, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Age Recommendation: 14+
Length: Full Length (241 pgs)
Rating: 3.5 Suns
Review by: Fern

When I was yet a very young woman I threw my heart away. Ever since then I have lived heartless, or almost heartless, the way Humans think all Fey live.

Among the towering trees of magical Avalon, where humans dare not tread, lives Niviene, daughter of the Lady of the Lake. Her people, the Fey, are folk of the wood and avoid the violence and greed of man. But the strife of King Arthur’s realm threatens even the peace of Avalon. And while Merlin the mage has been training Niviene as his apprentice, he now needs her help to thwart the chaos devouring Camelot. Niviene’s special talents must help save a kingdom and discover the treachery of men and the beauty of love…

Take a journey into a time when knights reigned, magic existed, and there were still unexplored regions in the land. Merlin’s Harp is a story that combines many of the tales of old and creates a new version of King Arthur, the round table, Lancelot, Merlin, and the fabled Avalon.

Told through the narrative of Nivienne, a fey who has lived on Apple Island in Avalon all her life, this isn’t the tale that you remember. In this fable, Nivienne is front and center, and the stops along the way create her own unique journey. Those around her are the supporting cast – her fellow fey, King Arthur, Merlin – all of which come into play as the mystery unfolds and the hidden villas are revealed. It’s an intricate puzzle that unravels piece by piece, creating new variations which are far more than you anticipate.

Written in a lyrical fashion, at times I found myself wondering if a fourteen-year old fascinated by shimmering vampires would find appeal in Merlin’s Harp. To be certain, it’s beautiful at times, yet here and there the narrative and dialogue became cumbersome and drew me away from the story. This isn’t the average YA fanfare, yet strives to provide something fresh and unique in a genre saturated by angst and modern-day calamities. Yes, there is a smidgen of romance, but ultimately, this is a tale of love, loss, forgiveness, and acceptance. Nivienne has many tragedies that mark her soul, each one painful and heart-wrenching. It’s not always an easy read, however, when the twists and turns occur, it’s enough to draw the reader back in and ensure they’ll continue flipping the pages through to the end.

Fans of the Arthurian legend will enjoy Merlin’s Harp, although it should be stated that some of the themes, while not graphic, are adult in nature. If you want to experience the legend through the voice of a young-woman, this is exactly what you’re looking for.

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