In the town of Knockmealldown, the forbidden f-word is Fairy. The recent annual Summer Festivals have been disasters. This year, the Junior Festival Committee (Cow Fetching Sub-group) consists of three twelve-year-olds, Brian Nolan, and the cousins Derek and Helen. Once a century, the Fairy Folk visit, expecting a Great Festival. When they arrive, Brian manages to insult them and as punishment his parents are turned into herons. If the festival disappoints, the same feathered fate will befall the entire town, unless Brian can restore their lost Princess, Fester. He must complete the Cluaracan’s Challenge of the Four Feats to win her stolen Cloak of Feathers. When it is returned, the enchantments binding Fester will be broken.
The story seamlessly blends the modern setting with mythical elements, which are recognisably inspired by Irish folklore. Brian’s family are the only residents of the unfinished Ghost Pig Estate. All the other houses have been engulfed by pernicious Norwegian Hëlweed. The estate occupies the site of the pig factory destroyed by the great Black Boar of Lisashee, Mulkytine. Brian gives vouchers for Una’s Salon to the Banshees that joined the Family Fun and Historic Cycle.
Brian is a likeable hero and an engaging narrator. He recounts his tale with plenty of humour and vivid descriptions. The depiction of the ‘friendly’ hurling match between the Knockmealldowners and creatures from the Otherworld masterfully sustains the suspense all the way through. The short chapters zip along, covering the action-packed three-day festival weekend, creating a thoroughly enjoyable read.