The Hawthorn Crown

Anyone who has grown up in Ireland will have heard of changelings at some time, the fairy children left behind when human children are stolen by fairies. Our sympathies usually go with the human family, but Helen Falconer invites us to consider things from the perspective of the fairy child—especially when she grows up into a teenage girl. What is it like to discover you’re not who you thought you were?

The first two books in this series introduced us to Aoife, the grown up fairy child, and her best (human) friend Carla. The last book in the trilogy opens with Aoife stuck in the fairy world, and Carla returning to rural Mayo to try and cope without her. This is not easy: as well as struggling with the supernatural, Carla has to contend with being dumped by her boyfriend and doubted by her family. Falconer does a great line in balancing the magical and the mundane throughout the book. In one thrilling sequence Carla’s ex is attacked by a Púca, but, even though his friends film it, all they can see is his new girlfriend ‘freaking him out in a gorilla suit’. Carla’s frustration with the narrow views of the people around her is palpable, but Falconer is an unusually compassionate writer and presents both sides as reasonable. Even the Púca is sympathetic, when you find out enough about her.

This is a real strength of the book, and along with the well-drawn, believable characters makes for a strong and satisfying conclusion to the series.