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Awakenings: 'Neath Ancient Ruins Lie, Book One Paperback – November 24, 2011
About the Author
Mabel D. F. Cowie was born and raised in Cowdenbeath near Edinburgh, Scotland, and it's her homeland that continues to inspire much of her stories. After graduating from Brigham Young University, she now lives in Washington State with her husband and three children. Mabel picked up the habit of storytelling from her father, who would weave yarns as they went for walks throughout the highlands and lowlands of Scotland. 'Neath Ancient Ruins Lie began as a bedtime story for her two daughters, but it grew in the telling into a series of three books.
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This book begins in another, more magical realm which is experiencing "dark waters and dark times". Here we learn of Elgol, his brother and some of the realm's other inhabitants who are trying to set things right.
But I like that most of the book is set in a 1930s Scottish fishing village with a "Castle on the Hill". The story takes place in the castle where thirteen-year-old Arran works but we also get a taste of her village and family life. I like most of the castle staff and the laird is a good man who cares about those in his service. When Elgol suddenly finds himself in this castle everyone works together to try to get him home again.
This is a good family book. I started reading it to my granddaughters during the holidays and they are finishing it on their own now. The characters are well written - you know and care about their lives outside the castle.
Unlike several Kindle trilogies I've recently read this is not just a single story sliced into three books. This is a full-length book with a good story-line. It has a conclusion but enough unanswered problems that you want to see what happens next.
I'm looking forward to the next book and learning more about Arran and Elgol and his magical world.
Great first book, Mabel Cowie! I'd give it 4 1/2 stars if Amazon allowed.
Anyway, your descriptions of the area in the 1930's was important...I loved that the castle didn't have electricity yet and that the laird did not have a car. It made for some comical moments too.
I will wait for the next volumn, but please don't take too long...
The first chapter takes place in Ormiscaig, the parallel world, and the second at the castle in Scotland. Both of these chapters introduce and describe characters and setting, and were a bit detailed for me. But read on, because by the fourth chapter I couldn't put it down!
Arran is a young servant girl about to turn 14. She is at first sweet and kind, but as the story progresses you discover (as she discovers) that she is also smart and brave. The excitement in the story picks up as a stranger appears in the castle's dungeon, and begins to prove true the legends and folklore that have surrounded the castle. I liked how the staff and the laird come together to solve the mysteries and help this stranded stranger.
One of Mabel Cowie's talents is in description. She creates vivid pictures of her characters and their surroundings. For example,
"The room was plush and beautiful; rich red tapestry curtains hung from the windows, and several tartan rugs covering the floor added warmth to the room."
"The gentle gliding of the gull's wings and the sound of the water on the shore lulled her into a soft, gentle slumber."
"Above the glen, an eagle was stretching its long elegant wings out into the blue sky above soaring high above the tree tops."
The writing is also humorous at times. A young relative of the Laird comes to live in the castle (don't castles always need a sweet young ward living in one of the towers?) He is concerned that he might not have anything to talk to her about. When they sit down to their first meal together, Isla begins talking and doesn't stop. Her rambling, excited sentences remind me of several children I know. "One fairy in particular even knew my name. Her name is Tona, by the way, and she thinks I am a princess. She has beautiful long wavy hair the color of the wheat fields and..."
The fairies are another part of the story I really liked. When they talk or sing, those who believe in them are instantly comforted. They are soothed and filled with peace. I think this is symbolic of the pureness and goodness that the characters are searching for, but also reminded me of the power of mothers. Kind of how newborns can be comforted by the sound of their mother's voice. And how a mother's care and concern can wipe away your worries.
Toward the end of the book, Arran must make a difficult decision. As she is pondering her choices, Elgol says to her, "You have great potential, Arran. There is much about yourself that you have not discovered yet, but it is nothing that you need to fear."
I think this is going to be important in the next two volumes. I always like books in which young protagonists rise to their potential and become the amazing people that the adults around them knew they can be. I think they are inspiring and send a positive message to their young readers.
I also enjoyed Mabel's use of Scottish landmarks in her story. I like when fantasy novels tie into mythology and locations that really exist. How do you think Loch Ness will be incorporated?
I think this is a fun story that you and your children will enjoy. And probably your parents and aunts and neighbors and neices.