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James A. Hetley
book cover

2002, Oct, Ace

Who recommends: Preeti
Who discommends: JW

I wasn't sure what to expect when I began THE SUMMER COUNTRY by James A. Hetley. A first novel by a male author--could I expect the book to have a romance (for the purposes of this site)? Happily, Hetley's contemporary fantasy did not disappoint. It's a dark-edged, urban, Celtic fantasy story which reminded me a bit of Emma Bull's WAR FOR THE OAKS.

Maureen is a messed up young woman still traumatized from events in her childhood. The book starts on a dreary urban winter day on which an unearthly person, a fey creature, stalks Maureen. She's saved by the appearance of Brian Albion, a soldier who kills the stalker in a rather gory manner. Brian introduces Maureen to the world of magic, telling her it's her heritage. Brian and Maureen are both of the Old Ones--meaning a hybrid of human and an older Neandertal-like species--and are being stalked by other conscienceless Old Ones for their precious fertility.

This book is mainly Maureen's story, as she comes to grip with her mental illness and her issues with men during her fight for survival against her hunters/captors. Which is why I wish a good chunk of the story hadn't switched to her sexy, confident and also magical older sister's point of view. I wasn't sure what Jo's viewpoint really added to the story. But maybe I didn't want to know because Maureen was by far the most interesting character in the book.

Anyway, this was an engrossing story...Hetley's version of the Fey, Sidhe, whatever intrigued me enough to keep turning the pages. I read it in one sitting and look forward to reading more by Hetley in the future. The story was completed in this one novel, but there's room for more exploration of the ongoing conflict between the Old Ones.--Preeti (29 Sep 02)

I picked up THE SUMMER COUNTRY by James A. Hetley from the library, but didn't finish it. Didn't hate it, just kept losing interest and putting it down.--JW (7 Feb 03)

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