From the Publisher
“Sullivan draws heavily on her knowledge of Middle English folklore and creates a story rich with memorable characters and evocative language. The ending begs for a sequel in which readers can learn more about the history between the two opposing fairy courts and how the Morgan children fulfill their destinies.” School Library Journal
“With colorful characters, from Jenny Greenteeth to the dragonlike Wyrm, this engaging fantasy will attract readers intrigued by English folklore.” Booklist
“Like Edward Eager's Half-Magic, this debut contemporary fantasy pays homage to E. Nesbit, but it goes further, mirroring Nesbit's narrative quirks, syntax and even vocabulary.” Kirkus Reviews
“Magic, wonder, and danger pervade this tightly plotted, perfectly age-pitched fantasy debut.” BCCB
“Sullivan fashions an unforgettable landscape and suggests that the line between the real and fairy worlds remains highly permeable. She pays tribute to time-honored fairy traditions while also introducing questions of free will, trust and loyalty in a refreshingly original tale.” Shelf Awareness
Children's Literature - Heather Kinard
With a virulent fever running rampant in the United States, the Morgan family is desperate to find a safe place to send their four children for the summer. Reluctantly, Rowan, Meg, Silly, their little brother James and two tag-along friends are sent to the English countryside to stay with elderly relatives they have never met. They have no way of knowing that what waits for them in England is far more dangerous. Upon arrival the children are given explicit rules to follow. They are free to explore the mansion and the grounds surrounding the Rookery, but are not to speak or accept food from strangers, tell anyone their name, and especially they must stay out of the forest. Unable to resist the temptation, the children almost immediately disobey and discover that the forbidden forest hides a secret world of fairies that are dangerous, manipulative, and in the middle of a frightening Midsummer war. Enchanted by the beautiful fairy queen of the Green Hill, Rowan pledges to be her champion in the war, not realizing he has most likely sealed his own death. Meg desperately wants to save her brother, but discovers the only way to do so is to take his place at the final battle. Then comes the realization that her opponent in this battle to the death is a member of her own family. While making preparations for the impending war the children learn about courage, honor, and sacrifice. This book is a present-day fantasy filled with adventure, shape-shifting, enchanted weapons, and interesting characters, both good and bad. Readers who enjoyed the "Fablehaven" series will also enjoy this book. Reviewer: Heather Kinard
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—When a life-claiming illness sweeps across the United States, college professors Tom and Glynnis Morgan send their children to England to stay with elderly relatives they have never met. Rowan, Meg, Priscilla, and James are accompanied by malicious Finn Fachan and timid Dickie Rhys, sons of other professors. When great-great-aunt Phyllida Ash gives her six guests a list of rules the first evening (stay out of the forest, never accept food from outside the Rookery, do not tell strangers your names), they view her warnings as old superstitions. However, these admonitions have a practical basis: it is a seventh summer. Phyllida's ancestors have always been the human guardians of the Green Hill, a sacred place to the fairies since the beginning of time, and it is now her job to mediate between the two remaining fairy courts, and to keep the balance between humans and fairies. Despite Phyllida's warnings, the children are drawn into the forest, where they meet the queen of the Seelie Court. Every seventh summer, the Midsummer War must be fought between the two fairy courts if the land is to remain verdant, and tradition holds that each court will choose a human champion who will fight to the death. When the Fairy Queen asks Rowan if he will champion the cause for the Seelie Court, he gladly accepts. Meg must weigh keeping her older brother from what she believes will be certain death against interfering with an age-old practice whose absence could destroy the land. Sullivan draws heavily on her knowledge of Middle English folklore and creates a story rich with memorable characters and evocative language. The ending begs for a sequel in which readers can learn more about the history between the two opposing fairy courts and how the Morgan children fulfill their destinies.—Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA
Like Edward Eager's Half-Magic, this debut contemporary fantasy pays homage to E. Nesbit, but it goes further, mirroring Nesbit's narrative quirks, syntax and even vocabulary. To escape an epidemic, six American kids—the four Morgan siblings and two classmates—are bundled off to the siblings' elderly relatives in rural England. Arriving just in time for Beltane, they discover that the Seelie and Unseelie courts are housed nearby; the countryside is awash in fairies. Disregarding warnings not to leave the premises, the kids are soon up to their necks in dangerous fairy politics. Rowan is recruited as the Fairy Queen's champion, Meg meets a brownie, Finn stirs up trouble and Dickie meets a learned Wyrm. The often-archaic language sometimes jars—the Morgans call their parents "Mother" and "Father" and use expressions like, "that's the ticket"—and the chatty narrator repeatedly pauses the action to reflect on it or spell out a moral. Happily, Sullivan also channels vivid Nesbit-style storytelling and characters, and while the discursive asides diminish suspense, they're a refreshing departure from breakneck pacing and breathless narration. (Fantasy. 9-14)
Read an Excerpt
“Oh dear,” said Phyllida Ash as she read the telegram. Even in these days of telephones and e-mail, the only messages that reach the Rookery are hand-delivered by a sly-faced young man who pads down quiet paths from the nearby town of Gladysmere. “They want to come here, ’Sander. On the first of May. Oh, this will never do at all!”
She ran her free hand distractedly through short, thick curls that in some lights were almost lavender. Though she had, even at her great age, a brusque force to her movements, there was something about the way her fingers lingered at the ends of her curls that hinted she’d once been a coquette. Lysander stifled a grunt as he pushed himself up with a stout, gnarled cane and crossed the garden kitchen to put an arm around his wife of sixty years.
“Why now?” she moaned, leaning into him. “Of all the years, of all the times, why does she pick the most dangerous to send her children here?”
Lysander Ash took up the telegram and scanned lines written in the age-old truncated style. Dear Aunt Uncle Ash, stop. “Aunt and uncle, hogwash! Great-aunt and -uncle, maybe. . . .”
“One more ‘great,’ I think.”
“Be that as it may.” He read aloud: “Urgent favor needed, stop. Fever rampant in States, stop. Can you take children for summer, interrogative. Awfully grateful, stop. Arriving May One, stop. Rowan, Meg, Priscilla, James, stop. Do they think we don’t even know their names?”
“Well, we’ve never seen them. We’ve never seen any of them, not since Chlorinda left.”
“Your sister wasn’t able to take on her responsibilities,” Lysander began hotly.
“Now, don’t open old wounds,” his wife said, with a reproach so gentle it was obvious she’d been repeating it for many years. When people have lived together for six decades, and played as children in the years before that, many of their conversations go by rote, and often entire arguments can take place with a brief glance.
“Four generations living across the ocean, and those children so far removed from what’s in their blood. And now they want to traipse across the ocean just in time to get themselves captured or glamoured or torn to shreds!”
“It’s not as bad as all that,” she said, wondering, as she frequently did, whether he became deliberately contrary just to force her into an opposing tack. She’d been dead against the children’s coming the moment she read the telegram, but now, in the face of Lysander’s opposition—it was her family, after all—she was almost reconciled to their arrival. “We can take precautions. . . . They’ll be all right if we keep them on the grounds. The house and gardens will be enough for them, and there’s nothing that can hurt them there. It will be safer than staying where there’s fever. A lot of children are leaving the States, I’ve heard, or going off to the mountains. I’m ashamed I didn’t think to invite them here. Why, our house could hold a hundred children, with no danger to anyone! What harm could four come to?”
“Four children here, at Midsummer, on a seventh year? Even the villagers hide their children at the teind times.”
“They’ll be fine,” she assured him, squeezing his hand. “Bran will look after them. Oh!” She gave a little gasp. “Someone has to tell Bran.” She looked worried, perhaps even a bit frightened.
Lysander turned away from her abruptly to poke the low fire that burned winter and summer. “Well, it’s not going to be me.” After all, he had to put his foot down somewhere.
Excerpted from Under the Green Hill by Laura L. Sullivan
Copyright © 2010 by Laura L. Sullivan
Published in 2010 by Henry Holt and Company
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.