Every once and awhile, a book comes along that takes you on the most beautiful, magical journey and in turn ruins you for any other book for the next several weeks. Ireland did this to me. This novel felt like coming home, there was such a sense of belonging and well being emanating from it. This novel is many ancient Irish folklore stories laid out in one big, beautiful story. And it made me realize the value of the oral tradition that many ancient civilizations depended on. My poor humble words can do it no justice.
Ronan O’Mara, age 9, met the most magical, mysterious man. The Storyteller, the only name the man will give anyone, came to his home for a few nights in the late 1940s and changed his world forever. Feeling a strange and inexplicable connection to this man, Ronan spends the next several years desperately trying to find him again, only to meet many roadblocks. Along the way, people share with him the stories the Storyteller shared with them; stories about Ireland’s ancient, rich and beautiful past. As the Ronan grows he learns many interesting things about his family and himself.
The stranger’s face was chalk-white with exhaustion and he stumbled on the rough ground, his hands held out before him like a sleepwalker’s. He looked like a scarecrow deserting his post. High grasses soaked his cracked boots and drenched his coat hems. A mist like a silver veil floated about the ground, broke at his knees, and reassembled itself in his wake. In the twilight fog, mysterious shapes appeared and dematerialized, so that the pale walker was never sure he had seen merely the branches of trees or the arms of mythic dancers come to greet him. Closer in, the dark shadows of the tree trunks twisted into harsh and threatening shapes.
That evening, in that white house among the fields, a boy’s most passionate dream came true. His father had long talked of the traveling storytellers. He said they possessed brilliant powers; they brought the long-gone past to life vividly, without what he called “the interference of scholars. Those professors,” he said. “They dry out history in order to put it down on paper.” In his father’s view, a tale with the feeling taken out of it had, “no blood and was worth very little.”