Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Book Review: Under the Green Hill by Laura L. Sullivan

Posted as part of Tween Tuesday, hosted by GreenBeanTeenQueen.
Under the Green Hill by Laura L. Sullivan
Publisher: Henry Hold
Publication date: October 2010
ISBN: 9780805089844
Source: Review copy provided by publisher

Under the Green Hill

When Rowan, Meg, Silly, and James are all sent from their home in America to visit a distant relative, they do not expect to have any adventures.  Phyllida, their great-aunt, lives in an isolated but enormous house that happens to be surrounded by fairies.  Rowan is immediately drawn into the fairy war, swearing to fight for the queen of the Seelie court, and Meg must fight with everything she can to keep him alive.  Will she be able to protect him, and at what cost?

Things I Liked:
This book had a really rich and detailed atmosphere.  I loved how I was drawn into the mythology and the setting immediately - just as quickly as Rowan is sucked into the fairy war.  The changeable and unearthly personalities of the fairies was really well done - most fairy stories talk about how they are so amoral, but this one really felt that way.  Meg was a character that you love and that you might get annoyed with at the same time.  I really enjoyed the writing too, which was quite lovely and detailed.  A rich and beautiful book.  Here are some favorite parts:

She was a dairymaid and sometime hog-tender, pretty enough, no doubt, though certainly no more exceptional than any other cheerful, hardworking farm girl.  But under the glow of so many admiring eyes, she became spectacular.  Each worshipful gaze served (more than any charm she herself possessed) to heighten her beauty, so that the more people looked at her expecting to see beauty, the more beautiful she became.  It was the children's first encounter with that thing called a glamour, and even then, Meg saw through it more readily than the rest.  p 54
Dickie could tell it was extraordinary just from the smell.  An odor of knowledge permeated the air, ghosts of arcane secrets wafted about by the breeze the children made when they opened the door.  Here were books more rare than any first editions.  Many were bound in calfskin, and not a few had solid metal covers, so that they seemed more like treasure chests than proper books.  Some were locked, and some placed so inconveniently high on the shelves it was obvious they were not meant to be disturbed very often. p 119
Somehow, this evidence that the beast was learned comforted Dickie.  A snake that could speak English was a terror, but a snake that spoke Latin must be civilized.  p 160
Things I Didn't Like:
I have to admit that the story is very slow.  Occasionally, I would lost interest because not much seemed to be happening.  Describing fairies and other magical creatures is only fun for so long.  I'm wondering if it will have much kid appeal too, since it seems a very mature story in places and though the characters are young, they are dealing with more adult situations and rather grim details.  Still, it was an enjoyable read and probably a very advanced reader would adore it.

Reminded me of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Also a bit like the Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi

s-factor: !
perhaps one or two

mrg-factor: none
some implied stuff, but very vague

v-factor: ->
there is a war :)

Overall rating: ****

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage


  1. I just came across your review via Charlotte's Library.

    This looks like an interesting one! Even if it does get a bit bogged down with description, I might have to check it out. Traditional (ie, not always nice) fairies are always fun for me!

    Thanks for the review!

  2. Lawrel, welcome! I think it will appeal to fairy-loving adults pretty well too :)

  3. I'm a bit partial to books about kids in unfamiliar old houses who stumble upon magical worlds. There was never any doubt in my mind that I would love Under the Green Hill. I want to be so very grown-up and objective and say that what I found so attractive in this book was its own sense of place in and reverence to the tradition of books about kids in unfamiliar old houses, so on and so forth. Or that I loved the allusions to other fairy/faerie stories that I caught but will probably fly over the heads of young readers.


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