Carole-Ann's Reviews > Magus of Stonewylde

Magus of Stonewylde by Kit Berry
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's review
Jul 29, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: ya-goodies, fantasy
Read from July 27 to 29, 2011 — I own a copy

Previously printed as a self-publish book in 2005, this story fits in well with current YA genres.

Stonewylde is a gated manorial village in Dorset on the south coast of England. Sylvie and her mother move there to help cure Sylvie of her allergies to towns and 'normal' living, and she meets Yul, a villager, who always seems to be in trouble. However, Magus, the Lord of the Manor, forbids their association, and the story is about how Sylvie and Yul persevere in their friendship.

Stonewylde, its Villagers and Hallfolk, is actually a pagan community, celebrating the equinox and quarterday rites in their worship of Mother Earth. There are various types of magical/spiritual things happening, along with the usual Them (Villagers) and Us (Hallfolk) differences, and the occasional bullying amongst the young boys and girls.

The premise of pagan rituals and 'organic' living is a good plot and they are woven into the story quite well.

However, two things bothered me - and are perhaps NOT YA in essence, so I would be reluctant to actually recommend this to a young teen.

The first is the Rite of Adulthood which each boy and girl undergoes at the age of 16. This is just another name for loss of virginity, either consensual or not; and there is no mention of birth control. Also, along these lines is the subtle indication that at each equinox celebration, boys, girls, men and women have unlimited sex with the sole intention of procreation - indicated several times in the story by the number of families with a large number of children, as well as mothers having children by different fathers.

The second worry is the rather harrowing descriptions of the bullying suffered by Yul; primarily by his drunken, sadistic father; then by a group of older boys; and both encouraged by Magus. These are not easy scenes to read, and would probably upset anyone of tender inclinations. Yes, Yul is the hero who survives because of his great spirit and love of the natural world, but I would much rather have had him achieve his ascendancy without the really horrid things he goes through.

I'm also a glutton for punishment so I'll read the following 3 books in this series :)
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