There are lots of ways to celebrate March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day. You can wear green and pinch those who forgot their festive clothes. Lots of people celebrate by eating cabbage, corned beef, and soda bread. Of course, anything with gold coins or four leaf clovers will be popular for decorations. A new way you can celebrate is by experiencing the rich tradition of Irish folklore found in teen novels. Here is a collection of books that drew their influence from Irish myths. The list purposefully avoids myths about mermaids and Sirens because of Gretchen Kolderup’s previous coverage of them in “Fintastic: the rise of mermaids and sirens.”
- The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (a 2012 Michael L. Printz Honor Book)
In The Scorpio Races, Sean competes against Puck, the first girl ever to ride in the annual races, both trying to keep hold of their dangerous water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. The kelpie is a supernatural water horse from Celtic folklore that is believed to haunt the rivers and lochs of Scotland and Ireland.
- I Am Morgan le Fay: A Tale from Camelot by Nancy Springer (author of I am Mordred, a 1999 Best Book for Teens)
In a war-torn England where her half-brother Arthur will eventually become king, the young Morgan le Fay comes to realize that she has magic powers and links to the faerie world. The story of Morgan le Fay derives from the Morrigan, the Irish triple goddess of battle, strife and fertility.
- The New Policeman by Kate Thompson (a 2008 Best Book for Young Adults)
In search of the perfect gift for his mother, J. J., an Irish 15-year-old, must save the inhabitants of another world and solve an ancient mystery when he discovers that time is leaking from his world into TÃr na nÃ“g, the land of the fairies. TÃr na nÃ“g was not an afterlife for deceased heroes, but rather a sort of an earthly paradise populated by supernatural beings. Check for the sequels Last of the High Kings and The White Horse Trick.
- The Fire Opal by Regina McBride
Set in 16th-century Ireland, 19 year old Maeve fights to save the souls of her mother and infant baby sister. She must steal back the Fire Opal from Uria and return it to the goddess Danu, which will restore balance and save her loved ones. Danu is a mother goddess from Tuatha DÃ© Danann, the Celtic tribes that first invaded Ireland.
- The Last Apprentice: A Coven of Witches by Joseph Delaney (the author of Revenge of the Witch, a 2011 Popular Paperback for Young Adults selection)
Four short stories tell the backgrounds of terrifying witches, including the Banshee Witch based on the banshee of Irish myth, a woman who begins to wail if someone is about to die.
- Selkie Girl by Laurie Brooks
When sixteen-year-old Elin Jean finds a seal pelt hidden at home and realizes that her mother is actually a selkie, she returns the pelt to her mother, only to find her life taking many unexpected turns. Selkies are said to live as seals in the sea but shed their skin to become human on land. More selkie-inspired stories are Sea Change by Aimee Friedman and Promises: Book One of The Syrenka Series by Amber Garr.
- Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale by Holly Black (Gateway to Faerie 2005 Popular Paperbacks booklist)
Kaye discovers that she is a changeling and that her one-time imaginary faerie playmates want her to pretend to be a human so they can use her as a sacrifice to earn their freedom for seven years. Tithe is a retelling a famous ballad; it tells of the rescue of Tam Lin by his true love from the Queen of the Fairies. Kaye’s adventures continue in the sequels Valiant and Ironside, where she meets with fairies, trolls, and other creatures.
- Shapeshifter by Holly Bennett
In order to escape the sorcerer who wants to control her gift of song, Sive must transform herself into a deer, leave the Otherworld and find refuge in Eire, the land of mortals. This character-driven novel is based on the traditional legend of Sive, the mother of OisÃn enchanted by an evil wizard. Sive is also know as Sadhbh, and “was enchanted to take the form of a doe for refusing the love of Fer Doirich (or Fear Doirche), the dark druid of the Men of Dea.” Oisin is also the son of Finn McCool, or Fionn mac Cumhaill a famous hunter of Irish mythology. In addition to a famous lineage, Oisin is regarded as the greatest poet in Irish history.
No matter how you plan to celebrate, there is a teen novel to suit your mood. Personally I plan to chase a rainbow and find out if the glint of gold is the shine of bright new fiction.
— Laura C. Perenic is reading Thumped by Megan McCafferty, the sequel to Bumped (which was a 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults nominee)
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