Please, sit down on this comfy blanket beside Loucinda and me as she tells us a tale of The Sidhe Princess. The grass under the blanket is soft, the strong trees shield us from the sun, and the blooming flowers scent the air. Grab a cup of tea and some scones as we listen.
Jill: Loucinda, what is The Sidhe Princess about?
Loucinda: In the rural Northern Ireland of the 1960s, sixteen-year-old Moira Mullins is newly released from her second stay in a mental institution. Her problem is that she can’t seem to escape the notice of the other-worldly inhabitants of the wild lands bordering her family’s farm. Creatures nobody else can see or hear.
When one of these beings, a fairy princess called the Maid of Ulster, offers to foretell the future, Moira jumps at the chance. But the Maid has ulterior motives that could have tragic results for Moira, who learns the future is sometimes better unknown.
Jill: So intriguing. Fairy creatures, knowing the future, and an awesome cover. What do you mean you haven’t seen the cover. Here it is!
Loucinda: (turning on her ereader) Here we go.
This hadn’t been Moira’s first stay in the sanitarium. No, that had happened over three years ago, the spring before she’d turned thirteen, and that time had been far worse. The visions or hallucinations or whatever they were had never happened to her before. At least not with such intensity, and telling the truth was never going to set her free of the horrid place.
Fee had been the one to tell her that revelation, and advise her to hide pills under her tongue and spit them out later. Just as Fee had been the only one who believed the creatures Moira saw and heard were real, not some sickness in her mind.
This go round, Moira had been far wiser to the doctors and nurses and their ways, and she’d only been forced to stay three months. The fact that her sister had visited almost every Sunday afternoon, her day off, helped too.
But Fee was gone now, far away across the pond in the city of Philadelphia, and Moira was back in County Armagh on the old homestead – the place of her torment. As she emptied her battered old satchel and put her few things away in the single bureau, she gazed out the only small window in the attic room.
Outside beyond the ragged edge of the back yard and the weed choked meadow lay the misty expanse of the fens. The thickly overgrown brush and gnarled trees that obscured the shores of Lough Neagh seemed to beckon to her, at the same time enticing and sinister. People in the village whispered tales about the fens, of strange goings on and how some folks who went in never came out.
How many times had Mum told her and Fee that the fens were dangerous? That they shouldn’t play there? But of course they did anyway. And when she was thirteen, Moira discovered the creatures from another realm lived there. Strange, beautiful and wild beings that appeared for her alone. Her mistake had been talking about them.
She knew it would only be a matter of time before she succumbed to their siren call, and the madness that awaited her within them would send her back to the hated, sterile confines of the sanitarium.
Nine days later, she first saw the new apparition. Mum and Da went off on their usual Saturday shopping expedition, and Moira elected to stay home alone.
Though Mum looked worried, Da actually took Moira’s side. “She’s not a wee lass any more, Mary,” he scolded. “You don’t need her right by your side every waking moment.”
He’d given Moira a wink behind her mother’s back when they climbed into the ancient farm truck that was their only means of transportation. With hearty calls of “Be home for tea!” they rumbled off in a cloud of dust.
The day was far too fine to stay inside ironing, so a couple of hours later, Moira slipped her little yellow transistor radio into her apron pocket and went outside to simply enjoy the sweet autumn sunshine. Even if she felt relief at coming and going as she pleased, she did feel oddly alone after the constant voices and presence of the staff and patients in the
sanitarium. Not that she missed the place, far from it!
She missed her sister.
On the radio, the Beatles crooned about “…please me like I please you…” and she sang along. But by the end of the song, the signal was fading. She turned the radio off and wished she’d asked Mum to pick up new batteries while she and Da were out.
As she slid the radio back into her pocket, her fingers brushed over Fiona’s letter. Moira had already read it more than once. In fact, she’d given Mum her reply to mail in the village today. But she walked over to the stump at the edge of the yard to read the letter yet another time.
Something about the letter wasn’t right. It wasn’t so much the things Fee wrote, but more like what she hadn’t. Moira couldn’t shake an uneasy feeling that not all was well. However, she also knew Fee wouldn’t say anything for fear of worrying Mum and Da.
The thin onion-skin paper rattled like the waxy stuff wrapped around the fancy scones that came from the village bakery. Moira smoothed the folded sheets across her lap and read Fee’s sprawling script, heard her voice in the written words as she described the crazy city traffic all going in the wrong direction. The Richardsons had a brand new Lincoln Town Car and Mrs. Richardson intended to buy herself a car too, as soon as she found one
to her liking.
Moira closed her eyes and imagined what it must be like to be so rich you owned two new cars and a fine house so big that your three children each had a bedroom and the nanny had one too. While she pictured the lovely wall-papered room Fee had described, the sound of childish laughter invaded Moira’s daydream. Her eyes popped open and she scanned the brushy border of the fens, catching a glimpse of a white figure.
“Who’s there?” Moira cried, shoving the letter back into her pocket and jumping to her feet.
The fens could be a dangerous place for a child, full of boggy spots and stickery piles of brambles, as Mum had never failed to tell her. But as Moira crossed the over-grown expanse of the meadow and drew closer to the fens, she heard the giggling again. A scrap of doubt tugged at her mind, making her hesitate. Something about the sound wasn’t childish. Or even human.
While she paused, the being came into view. Small as a child of nine or ten and clad in a long gown of gauzy white, the girl’s golden hair streamed behind her, strands of it braided around bird feathers or woven into bits of metal or bright colored beads. Her skin was almost the same shade as her hair, like rich honey, and when she stopped to regard Moira, her dark eyes shone with the same flecks of gold.
One of the fae, Moira guessed, and the most exquisite wee thing she’d ever seen.
“You can see me as well as hear me, can you not?” asked the small woman. The proud way she stood and the commanding tone she used were not the least bit childlike.
Moira nodded mutely and twisted her hands into her apron. ‘Twas not the first time she’d seen and even spoken to other-worldly creatures, though never before had one been so bold in approaching her. Nor so beautiful.
Jill: Loucinda, thank you so much for a tease of your lovely tale. Here is where everyone can get the rest of the story.
and here is where you can find Loucinda McGary
Thank you so much Loucinda for a lovely look at your book and a lovely day among the Fae.