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The Hounds of Ardagh
Laura J. Underwood
Five Star, 286 pages

The Hounds of Ardagh
Laura J. Underwood
Laura J. Underwood's books include Ard Magister (2002), Chronicles of the Last War (2004), Dragon's Tongue and Wandering Lark (forthcoming). She is an Active Member of the SFFWA and resides in Tennessee. When not writing, Underwood is Supervisor of Periodicals for the Knox County Public Library System.

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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Sherwood Smith

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Ginny Ni Cooley is a half-trained mage, living in Tamhasg Wood, but not alone. She's got the company of Thistle, a doughty little terrier -- and there's also Manus MacGreeley, a ghost. She is well regarded by the villagers of nearly Conorscroft for her magical aid; life is racketing along comfortably enough (as comfortable as it can with a moody ghost who likes to talk) when a disturbance one night plunges them all into adventure and danger.

A boy appears, chased by a demon dog named Nidubh. Poor Fafne MacArdagh was half-transformed into a dog. The rest of his family is now a hound pack. Ginny is not able to transform him back, so she takes him to someone who can -- to discover that there's real danger at stake here: a vicious bloodmage named Edain has ambitions, which include really nasty ends for just about everyone she encounters. Especially Manus and Ginny, when they dare to try to stop her.

The Hounds of Ardagh is a rapidly paced battle of skills and wits between Manus and Ginny on one side, and Edain on the other. Ginny and Manus also have other issues to work out -- some of them related to her lack of training, and his untimely death. The good guys in this story are colorful and appealing, the villainess someone you can enthusiastically hate, and the subsidiary characters a great deal of fun.

Laura J. Underwood has been writing about the world of Keltora for many years; its elements fit together like a cloisonné figure, both familiar and individualistic in style Underwood's tales are funny, harrowing, full of magic and music -- she's a harpist herself, and it shows in her work -- romantic, and full of the fantastic. If you like Celtic elements in worldbuilding, you really ought to give Laura Underwood's tales a try.

Copyright © 2006 Sherwood Smith

Sherwood Smith is a writer by vocation and reader by avocation. Her webpage is at www.sff.net/people/sherwood/.


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