3 out of 4 stars
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Skellig: The Tales of Conor Archer, Volume 2 is an imaginative fantasy novel written by E.R. Barr. Conor Archer, a teenager who lives in Chicago, descends from an ancient Irish shapeshifting species called the Roan. They are seals (selkies) in the ocean and dark-eyed people (with webbed hands) on land. Conor is originally from Tinker’s Grove, Wisconsin, a town founded by Irish Tinkers, a version of gypsies. He has the power of connecting light and dark, and he travels between reality and the mystical world. To better deal with this predicament, Conor travels to Ireland, where he faces powerful enemies.
The fantasy elements and the coming-of-age plot go together well in this inventive novel. Conor grows as he gets schooled in the Celtic arts; his powers find a home, and he becomes a worthy foe to the evil forces he has to overcome. Additionally, there are illustrations in the book, which I appreciated. For instance, there’s a sketch of the Archangel Michael, the Ranger of the Heavens, trident in hand, on his winged horse, Brian.
What I most enjoyed about the book was how the author explored ancient Celtic mythology, traditions, and beliefs. There are druids, bards, treasures, and amulets, among other things. I particularly enjoyed Amergin, Bard of the West, Walker of Worlds, who finds “heroes of the Light to stop the evils of the Dark.” There are many folk songs throughout the novel, and the music “holds the land together.”
The novel has a well-woven plot, and the characters and their magical traits are well-developed. I was pleasantly surprised by Hercules Columba Roddy (aka Colly), a changeling and a shapeshifter who could turn himself into a werewolf. Conor’s dog, named Troubles, is also delightfully magical. There are also amusing links to the real world. For instance, when Michael lights the atmosphere on fire, NATO picks up the disturbance and scrambles jets to check it out, but their engines die as if an EMP blast had occurred.
In closing, the book has instances of non-borderline profanity; I thought this was unnecessary and narrowed its potential audience. This aspect was what I disliked the most about the novel. I wish the author would have refrained from using the f word. Also, this version of the book needs an additional round of editing, for it has mishaps. Thus, due to these negative aspects, I rate it 3 out of 4 stars. If you enjoy fantasy novels, you should take a look at it. I believe it will also appeal to readers who appreciate Irish folklore.
SKELLIG: The Tales Of Conor Archer, vol. 2
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