I was immediately attracted to Shining Ones: Legend of the Sidhe because it is a fantasy that centers around Irish legends and myths. From the first pages where the author, Sanna Hines, provides maps of Ireland and a pronunciation guide for character names I knew I was in for a challenge.
Beginning in Keshcorran, Ireland with the introduction of Bres the Beautiful and Cliodhna of the Fair Hair the flavor of the story is set. This is ancient Ireland, the Ireland of myths and faeries, of “wee folk” and little people. But the legendary folk are neither small nor are they fairy like in appearance. There are no silvery transparent wings on these magical characters. In fact, they aren’t fluttering around; the couple drives to a cave where Cliodhna begins to sing. Yes, they drive, in a car. Here is where Hines weaves magical and practical together in a tidy package. This is the catalyst that sets the tale in motion. There can be no question the story will draw the reader into a mythical world where past meets present and adventure ensues. Even the quick transition to New Hampshire and the introduction of one of the primary female protagonists, Tessa Holly, is not jarring but neatly handled. Hines lets the reader know this book is about an Irish clan of beings who have lived for hundreds of years and are able to travel distances in the human world as well as to an “Otherworld”.
Tessa immediately fascinated me because her human persona is a police woman in Salem, New Hampshire. Although in reality she is a small woman, she is also a shapeshifter and able to change her appearance as needed. Mind you, I’m not talking about a shapeshifter like a werewolf suddenly appearing lupine and scurrying about on all fours hunting for humans to chew on. Tessa can make herself look like anyone. She can change her appearance so she is taller, broader, and almost anything required to perform the needed activity. Drawn into the sudden disappearance of her nephew Cory’s girlfriend Lia, Tessa drives furiously across the state. Lia entered a cave in New Hampshire when she heard mysterious singing. It’s obvious Lia has been lured away by the singing of Cliodhna far across the ocean.
It’s here that the author introduces Sam McHugh a/k/a Aidan Orbsen, the father of the missing Lia. While at first Tessa is annoyed by this attractive man there is the suggestion this could change over time. Although Tessa considers him a “conceited ass” she refers to his face as “perfect”. More interesting is the fact that Tessa recognizes Sam as a rich man’s son who had been accused of murdering his wife. This causes Tessa to wonder about Lia’s sudden disappearance and whether the man might have had a hand in it. It isn’t long before Tessa realizes there is much more going on here than is apparent at first glance. Ordinary humans should not be able to travel through these hidden portals. Be that as it may, Tessa learns her nephew has also disappeared and she dashes into the cave where she also disappears, leaving a puzzled Sam behind.
Once again Hines joins modern technology with magical transportation. Cory has taken Sam McHugh’s satellite phone and it conveniently has GPS. When he contacts McHugh both are shocked to find Cory has followed Lia to Ireland. Soon the boy is joined by his Aunt Tessa and together they leave the cave and follow the glow of a flashlight until they encounter a scarred woman who identifies herself as Brigid. She doesn’t seem very surprised to find these strangers wandering the hills at night. Soon it will become evident that she is more than a middle aged woman wandering in the dark.
Thus begins the adventure that will draw a hefty group of characters into a fantasy adventure that spans worlds and generations. Hines has created a fascinating landscape but it is sometimes difficult to keep track of the characters. Some have more than one name or identity. Coupled with the unusual names and pronunciations this often slowed down my reading. In spite of this the author is able to connect the diverse groups of people using time and magic to show their relationships. Other than the sometimes confusing name changes the story flowed well, taking the characters through the challenges of locating a variety of magical items that would assist in recovering the kidnapped Lia.
While her father and boyfriend search for Lia, accompanied by Tessa and members of her family, the girl is held captive on a yacht off the coast of Ireland. Surprises await her as she learns she has a special power and is not just the girl next door. The cast of characters on the yacht are Formorians, enemies of the Clan of Danu (Tuatha dè Danaan), and they need Lia to complete a ritual that will change their lives.
The conclusion of the book did leave me feeling vaguely lost and I wonder if there is a sequel in the future. Although the conflict between the Danu and the Formorians seems to be resolved there is a hint of more to come. I would love to find out what happens to Lia and Cory, Tessa and Sam, and the other characters who have survived.
There’s plenty of action, mystery, and romance in this book to satisfy any reader. Integrating the modern world with the magical world of ancient Ireland is a task Hines handles with skill. A well written if somewhat complex fantasy, it is a solid tale that I am pleased to recommend.
Cop-shapeshifter Tessa Holly won’t ever grow old. Descended from Ireland’s fairy race, the Tuatha dé Danann (Clan of Danu), she’ll enjoy long life and spectacular abilities. This legacy comes with a price: Her life will never be her own. Tessa’s Clan will choose her friends, career and husband. But when her brother and a human girl fall prey to enemy Formorians bent on stealing Danann longevity, the Clan goes silent. To rescue the captives, Tessa must rely on a man no one trusts as her guide through cairns, castles and cathedrals in search of her people’s greatest treasures. Along the way, she discovers a power greater than any she’s known. If she uses it during the final, crucial battle with Formorians, will she save—or destroy—her people?
Sanna Hines is fascinated with the question, “What IF?” What if I were in danger? Would I face it with bravery and resourcefulness–or give in to fear? What if I could live forever, but my loved ones could not? What if I had wings? Or lived in a town where creatures outnumbered humans? What lies waiting to be discovered behind the veil of ordinary existence?
Journalism, art history and business studies led Sanna to a career in marketing communications. In 2004, she turned to fiction. Her first two books were published in 2015. But, as Amazon pages say, there’s “more on the way.”
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