the bell at sealey head + giveaway

Sunday, July 26, 2009 |
The small seaside town of Sealey Head is home to a few families, an inn, and Aislinn House, an old mansion with a special power—its doors sometimes open onto the world of faerie, where princesses like young Ysabo occupy their time with a complex ritual and knights exist to marry the princesses. Each day at sunset, a bell sounds, heard by everyone, yet its whereabouts and the identity of its ringer remain unknown—until a few strangers arrive to unlock an ancient past. McKillip (Alphabet of Thorn; The Forgotten Beasts of Eld) weaves elegant modern fairy tales from simple themes, drawing the mythical and everyday worlds into an enchanted union. Elegant, deceptively spare prose and well-developed characters make this a good choice for adult and YA fantasy collections. – School Library Journal

I anticipated the arrival of The Bell at Sealey Head for months last year. It didn’t disappoint. McKillip always delivers truly lyrical prose. When I say that, I don’t mean romantic and flowery, and I don’t simply mean ‘well-written.’ I mean paragraphs like this:

“The princess stood on top of the highest tower in Aislinn House. Trees, sea, sky sloped dizzyingly around her. Emma could feel the wind blowing the morning scents of salt and earth, wrasse and wrack, newly opened flowers. Ysabo was surrounded by crows, a gathering so thick they covered the tower floor, a living, rustling, muttering pool of dark, consuming what looked like last night’s leftovers, the remains of a great feast, crusts and bloody bones, withering greens, the drying seeds and bright torn peels of exotic fruits.” p. 34

And that’s just a disconnected example, pulled out of a beautiful story that needs the whole, needs the context, to be fully felt and appreciated. Can you tell that I’m enchanted? McKillip’s work isn’t easily classified, either. It’s high fantasy certainly, and her worlds seem to emerge completely out of the ether, strikingly different, and made of another, magical time. Her characters live, laugh and learn to love in the midst of mystical and mysterious activities that only come out clear at the end. Or don’t make themselves clear at all. It’s uncertain, it’s wonderful, and it’s worth reading to the very last. But as to whether it’s YA or adult literature? You must make that discovery for yourself. Enjoy!


If you’d like to win your own copy of The Bell at Sealey Head, I’m holding a giveaway for one (1) copy.

To Enter:

Leave a comment on this post answering the question, “What is the most unusual ‘faerie’ creature you have heard of?”

Please include your email address. Giveaway is open internationally. Comments will close on August 9 at 11:59pm EST, and I will notify the randomly selected winner via email.

Good luck!


Liz said...

YaY! First Comment!!
Umm... I guess it would have to be... Tinkerbell? lol I don't know any fairy creatures besides her! (I know..pretty lame)


Rebecca, A Clothes Horse said...

Most unusual fairy creature...a boggart.
Have you read "Ill Made Mute" by Cecelia Dart-Thornton? If not, I think you would REALLY like it. If so, tell me if you did like it!

Steph Bowe said...

I love the fairies in How To Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbalestier. Though I guess they aren't really fairies - more like invisible good luck charms :-)

stephbowe (at) ymail (dot) com

Unknown said...

I don't need a copy of this, as I bought it the day it came out; I have done that with every McKillip I can for quite a while now. I have gotten to the point where I absolutely trust that whatever she writes I will want to own. You make me want to read this one again, though! Good luck to everyone with the giveaway.

Ashley said...

The Changelings from The Stolen Child were unusual and (I thought) disturbing.

butterflythunder AT sbcglobal DOT net

Shawna L. said...

Shawna Lewis

I can't think of the name of it but it is that horse that lives in the water & then comes out and gets you to ride it and it then drowns you...That's a weird one!!!

throuthehaze said...

I think hobgoblins are pretty weird
throuthehaze at gmail dot com

Llehn said...



Mozi Esme said...

Tinkerbell is the only one I could think of. I guess there is Cinderella's fairy godmother, too. If we go that route, there is the fairydactyl in the Dinorella story.

janemaritz at yahoo dot com

Unknown said...

I think a selkie is considered a fairy...

I posted a link on mine about your give away.

layersofthought at gmail dot com

Ryan said...

My favortie faerie creature has always been the banshee. Toot-Toot, the pizza loving fairy from Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files is another odd one.

My email is

Zombie Girrrl said...

The most unusual "faerie" creature I've come across would be... the chiming, crystal-furred wolves in Wicked Lovely. They're so pretty! And deadly, yeah, but isn't that whole point of faeries?

That excerpt was deliciously vivid!
zombiegirrrl21 at aol dot com

Libby's Library said...

The one in Harry Potter - the crazy one, that kept whacking himself in the head. What the heck was his name? Dobby, I think.


Cristina Alves said...

"What is the most unusual ‘faerie’ creature you have heard of?"
The Unicorn at The Rhinoceros Who Quoted Nietzsche by Peter Beagle. It isn't just the look of it, but its mind :)
acrisalves AT gmail DOT com

Wanda said...

That would have to be "Tinkerbell". I love her!
wandanamgreb (at) gmail (dot) com

buddyt said...

One that stuck in my mind was from the Shannara series.

It was called Uhl Belk and just described as a faerie creature that was given the stone of the world to care for.

chocowafer said...

The only thing I can think of right now are the faeries from the Wicked Lovely series, especially the ones from the Summer Court who are always tan-skinned and seem to have a beautiful glow about them. :)


LittleRaven said...

“What is the most unusual ‘faerie’ creature you have heard of?”
The shoe elves. The ones in that story that would fix a shopkeeper's shoes. I never got that.

babygirlG said...

The stayr.


Annmarie Weeks said...

I don't know many fairy creatures at all. Does an ogre count? I think they're quite strange. And leprechauns, too!

Marie said...

I would say banshees if they count?

Belinda M said...

Hmmm well Puck was a very odd faerie in A Midsummers night dream

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DG said...

I would have to say the "green children" from Irish literature because they sound more extraterrestrial than faerie to me.


CherylS22 said...

The fairies of Neverland in Peter Pan


Anonymous said...

Blair Lewis

The most Unusual Faerie creature is
The house Brownie!! I want one so if I need something fixed they would do it overnight and improve it no charge...Yep I want one maybe I can find one on e-bay ;o)

Mermaid-Spark said...

Light Elves with the ability to move over fire or inside wood and stone. They are called Ellefolk; can foretell the future, sing and compose a fascinating and enraptured music.

rubymoonstone at gmail dot com

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