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The Hounds of the Morrigan Mass Market Paperback – June 4, 1999


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 11 and up
  • Grade Level: 6 and up
  • Mass Market Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen (June 4, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0064472051
  • ISBN-13: 978-0064472050
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.3 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #408,308 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A battle between ancient forces of good and evil ensues after a boy innocently opens up a crumbling manuscript in an Irish bookshop; PW called this fantasy "uproariously funny, scary, suspenseful [and] entirely original." Ages 11-up. (July) .
- entirely original." Ages 11-up. (July) o
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-8 After he unwittingly releases an evil force long imprisoned in an old Irish manuscript, Pidge and his little sister, Brigit, are drawn into a series of adventures to help the good god, the Dagda, destroy this evil before it is found and used against the world by the Morrigan, Celtic tripartite goddess of battle. The Morrigan, in both hilarious and terrifying personae, is seen mostly in mod guise as a pair of motorcycle-riding hags, who set up a command post in Galway to observe and meddle with the action. (In one terrific touch, their fingerprint, suspended in air, becomes elsewhere a maze to entrap the children.) Their mean sense of humor lets them create a "watch frog" (who speaks in bog-Irish malapropisms); comb their blue and red hair with a live hedgehog; and make chess moves by sticking pins into chess pieces given temporary life. And constantly, their shape-changing, flick-tongued, slyand dominatedhounds track the children, but they may not kill unless they see their quarry run. The unfolding quest baffles and challenges the pair as it will readers, as shapes shift and dreams take on independent life. The writing is wonderful, but inventive to distraction; one can lose track of names and allusions to earlier events as episodes multiply, and some of the episodes seem superfluous. (The glossary is for traditional material only.) Large collections should have this book, by a new Irish writer, and those libraries with dedicated readers of fantasy should try it. Ruth M. McConnell, San Antonio Public Library
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

I read it in junior high about ten years ago, and to this day, it is still my favorite.
Kaylea Jayne Brooks
Over a lifetime, Pat O'Shea mined the deep lore of Ireland to create a lyrical fantasy with rich characters and luminous landscapes.
Kay Wood
This one of those books that I just picked up a long time ago and once I started reading it I couldn't put it down.
Lena E. E. Schriever

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 12, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I first read The Hounds Of The Morrigan in elementary school. Recently while at the library, it caught my eye again, almost like Pidge in the story. This is a wonderful novel - the characters are as alive as any people I've met, the setting is amazing, and, especially for a childrens book, the plots and subplots are intricate and complex. But fascinating - it's almost hypnotic - this is the only book I have ever seriously not been physically able to put down while reading it. Anybody looking for (I mean anybody, from 10 to much older) a really good fantasy and the quest you wished for devoutly as a child, a crash course in Irish mythology, and the kind of book will probably never come along again - read this book. It's well worth it. I wish Pat O'Shea would write another book like this - perhaps someday she will. Until then, read this one and hope. Come on, Pidge and Briget are waiting!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Katherine Lothlorien on May 16, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is a masterpiece.
Look, I can rave about as many books as I read (and I will) but in the end, this book is my very favourite. It took ten years to write and is, quite frankly, brilliant.
It has (almost) everything that recommends a book to me. Warm, endearing protagonists (Pidge and Brigit are two of the most delightful heroes to grace children's literature), truly threatening bad guys, humour, suspense, scary bits, happy bits, bits that make your scalp tingle, and bits that make your heart sing. It's about friendship, and love, and courage, and good versus evil. It's about ordinary people doing extraordinary things. It's ostensibly a children's story, but is strengthened by some challenging concepts. Its length, which would normally be limiting, merely prolongs the absolute delight to be found in this book. The plot is engrossing, although slow moving to start off with and references to Irish mythology lend an air of familiarity to the story.
The true strength of the book though, lies in its characters. Everyone in this book has a story. Every character is fully dimensional. You can picture Puddeneen having his life made cheerfully miserable by Miss Fancy just as strongly as you can picture Brigit growing into a vibrant, intelligent young woman and Puddeneen is a talking frog. That is how well O'Shea does her job.
I could never understand why 'His Dark Materials' etc were any more popular than this truly marvellous book. I recommend it above all others. It's beautiful.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 26, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Some books stretch the bounds of credulity with unexplained magical feats, but with this book I just didn't care; it makes no pretensions to be other than what it is - a children's fairy story, where anything can and does happen; monsters, giants, shapeshifters, witches, magic, talking animals - this book has the lot. It made me want to read it out loud to my grand-daughter, if it wasn't so long! It has that (now) outdated 'story-book' delivery to it that is somehow very appropriate to the plot and characters; short, descriptive sentences without waffle or padding convey the gist of the story using exactly the right words and phraseology - no wading through paragraphs of tortuous description. Brigit steals the show with her feisty 'I can do anything and I'm not afraid of YOU' attitude and the other characterisations are so good, you can 'see' each one in your mind's eye. Ideal material for a film, but I fear that Terry Gilliam is the only one good enough to do it justice. I loved it - read it with a child's open mind and you will too - a real joy!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Kas on April 4, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I found this book in my local library when I was eleven. It stayed with me for years, in the back of my brain. Finally, when I was eighteen, my friend surprised me with a hardcover version. It was even more incredible the second time around. I can't believe that this book has been such a whisper in the world of literature, let alone "young adult fantasy". O'Shea does with this masterpiece what most artists and writers could only dream of doing. Furthermore, she saves old Ireland with every heart she captures between the pages of this book. I only wish Columbus, Ohio had a writer to pull the stories up from under the asphalt the way O'Shea did with her modern town. Stories like this are what will save us.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 20, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This book became one of my ten "comfort books"...the ones I look for in hardcover, so they don't break or rip every time I move. They're the ones that follow me everywhere I go. "Hounds" was enchanting the first time I read it, and was just as wonderful the 40th (really!) time. I credit this book with sparking my interest in things Celtic. I would love to read anything else by Pat O'Shea, but this seems to be her tour-de-force...she has a small children's book out. It, too, is lovely, but it's nothing like this!
For the English Majors out there...even more so than the main characters, watch the bit parts. Every chapter is filled with people and animals who have their own purposes in the story, and each one is developed to the point that you just KNOW they have lives outside the bounds of their small, sometimes one-line parts...Highly recommended.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on September 9, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
With the surge of popularity for fantasy based kid's books (all thanks, in part, to that marvelous Harry O'Potter) there has been a glut on the market. Too many poorly written and poorly conceived works of children's literature are out there. It is the job of conscientious librarians, parents, and booksellers to weed through the mire and muck and find the rare true treasures out there. I'd been wading through muck for quite some time when it occurred to me that now was perhaps the best time to turn my attention to that hardly recognized classic, "The Hounds of the Morrigan". Originally published in 1985, the book is one of the purest fantasy novels ever written with children in mind. Combining old school fantasy elements with undiluted Irish myth and mythology, children in love with talking animals and evil witches need look no further than Pat O'Shea's riveting first novel.

Pidge doesn't mean to unleash an evil serpent upon the world but that's just the way things go sometimes. After having purchased an old manuscript containing a trapped creature of evil within its pages, Pidge finds himself in the center of a great grand adventure. It seems that the evil Morrigan, a kind of malevolent goddess split into three bodies, wishes to devour the serpent Olc-Glass and add its power to her own. The only means of defeating her in this effort lie in finding a drop of the Morrigan's blood that will destroy both the serpent and her plans. With his five year old sister Brigit in tow, ten year old Pidge sets out to find the pebble of blood and escape the Morrigan's hounds that follow him at every turn.

High fantasy has never been so epic. Author Pat O'Shea is extraordinarily gifted as she describes the wonders and horrors that confront the siblings at every turn.
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