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Under the Green Hill

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Meg and her siblings have been sent to the English countryside for the summer to stay with elderly relatives. The children are looking forward to exploring the ancient mansion and perhaps discovering a musty old attic or two filled with treasure, but never in their wildest dreams did they expect to find themselves in the middle of a fairy war. When Rowan pledges to fight for the beautiful fairy queen, Meg is desperate to save her brother. But the Midsummer War is far more than a battle between mythic Everything that lives depends on it. How can Meg choose between family and the fate of the very land itself?

311 pages, Hardcover

First published October 26, 2010

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Laura L. Sullivan

44 books120 followers

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5 stars
106 (26%)
4 stars
138 (33%)
3 stars
99 (24%)
2 stars
38 (9%)
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26 (6%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 86 reviews
Profile Image for Cindy Hudson.
Author 14 books23 followers
April 1, 2011
When the Morgan children, Rowan, Meg, Silly and James, are shipped off to spend the summer in England with an elderly aunt they’ve never met, they aren’t exactly thrilled. But when they arrive at the Rookery, the castle fills their minds with thoughts of exploring and discovering secret passageways.

Those fantasies soon pale when they discover that their family is part of an ancient pact connecting them to the fairies who live under the green hill. When they realize that one of them must act as champion to the fairy queen in a coming battle, they all decide to do what they can to help out.

Under the Green Hill by Laura L. Sullivan paints a richly detailed picture of fairies and other fantasy creatures who live just out of sight of normal humans. They can’t be trusted, and they like to play tricks on people to get their way. The natural world depends on their guardianship, as they depend on the guardianship of certain humans.

While the story is mostly about the four Morgan children and their adventures, it focuses mainly on Meg, who at 14 is growing more self-confident and leaving the shadow of her older brother Rowan. Meg is responsible, and she’s teased for being very like an old woman, but she can’t help seeing the consequences of all of their actions. She’s also strangely attracted to a bad boy who is along with them named Finn.

Under the Green Hill is a delightful fantasy that mother-daughter book clubs with girls aged 10 and up should enjoy reading and discussing. It’s beautifully written and group members should enjoy talking about the fairy world, English castles, and the personalities of each of the children.
84 reviews2 followers
December 28, 2010
This book is a beautiful example of the duality in mythical lore; there cannot be light without darkness. Perfect book for young readers (I estimate grades 5-7), or adults that still enjoy the magic of well written children's literature. The author has set the story to allow for a series to follow (which I would love), but there is enough closure for this initial offering to stand alone. The main characters are well developed, and supporting characters stay in their places until drawn into the story line.
Profile Image for Liana.
688 reviews32 followers
February 11, 2018
Despite the super cool premise, there was a little too much 'head hopping' for my tastes, which really stalled me from feeling the story...

Still a neat little book though!~ :)
Profile Image for melissa1lbr.
1,101 reviews27 followers
April 1, 2011
Things I Liked:
This book had a really rich and detailed atmosphere. I loved how I was drawn into the mythology and the setting immediately - just as quickly as Rowan is sucked into the fairy war. The changeable and unearthly personalities of the fairies was really well done - most fairy stories talk about how they are so amoral, but this one really felt that way. Meg was a character that you love and that you might get annoyed with at the same time. I really enjoyed the writing too, which was quite lovely and detailed. A rich and beautiful book.

Things I Didn't Like:
I have to admit that the story is very slow. Occasionally, I would lost interest because not much seemed to be happening. Describing fairies and other magical creatures is only fun for so long. I'm wondering if it will have much kid appeal too, since it seems a very mature story in places and though the characters are young, they are dealing with more adult situations and rather grim details. Still, it was an enjoyable read and probably a very advanced reader would adore it.
Full review at One Librarian's Book Reviews.

60 reviews
August 8, 2013
I so wanted to love this book. It's modeled on the early 20th century children's books I love, but I felt like the novel could never quite make up its mind whether it was truly trying to be a part of that genre, an homage to it, or gently mocking it. The characters never quite came together for me; they didn't feel quite real. To be honest, I think it might have worked better if it had actually been set in Nesbit's era rather than somewhat awkwardly wedged into our own, despite the timelessness of the rural setting. I loved the concept, and a lot of the setting, and much of the description was marvelous; I so wanted to fall in love with the characters, but I think I cared more for the idea of them than for their execution.

I do hope to read more by this author, though, and see how things work out.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Ryan.
1,200 reviews18 followers
December 4, 2012
A nice surprise - I enjoyed it far more than I expected. The 'good people' weren't disney-fied, characters were more complex than expected, I really liked the story, and the ending was satisfyingly complete without being trite. I'm always impressed when an author knows where the end is. I could read it again and find something different, I think. This time, I liked the ash trees, and the idea that people don't do "now" well because the past and future are constantly pressuring them. Trees are very now - rooted to the place they are planted, experiencing the weather as it is.
Profile Image for Kat Heckenbach.
Author 31 books229 followers
April 20, 2015
A cute middle grade read. When I first started reading it, I thought it was going to be a lot like Fablehaven--siblings visiting relatives they really didn't know, and finding out those relatives were in charge of a preserve for mythical creatures. Well, not quite. The mythical creatures are only fairies, and the relatives are merely guardians for the Green Hill. The story and writing are also quite a bit more mellow than Fablehaven, but still an interesting world with interesting fairy lore and some interesting characters.
20 reviews1 follower
May 17, 2015

R- I am not that big on fantasy, but I will read it and sort of enjoy it if it is written well. Under the Green Hill completely went against that. This book followed childeren as they traveled to England to find themselves in the middle of a fairy war. It's not a bad plot , it is just so long and written so uninterestingly you'll want to bang your head on a table. This book was so boring I almost fell asleep reading it.
Profile Image for Robert Kent.
Author 10 books34 followers
March 26, 2011
Do you like fairies, Esteemed Reader? No? Is it because of that special documentary on the History Channel that revealed that there have been multiple reports throughout history of folks claiming to have experienced missing time and later recalling that they were abducted by “fairies” with big black eyes and all gray skin that flew around in a UFO? Well, I can’t say as how I blame you. If it’s on the History Channel, it must be true, and you are right to be afraid, Esteemed Reader.

Laura L. Sullivan’s fairies are perhaps not the nasty customers the fairies on the History Channel are, but they may as well be. They are not overtly mean—well, some of them are—they’re just indifferent to human life, which is an interesting take on the fairies. They live in their own separate world with their own separate way of life and humans are not of great concern to them one way or another. To them, humans can be used or not and it’s all the same, rather the way I imagine an alien might feel about an earthling abducted.

So what’s the deal with this Green Hill and what’s under it? Well, the fairies are. And our heroes Rowan, Meg, Pricilla, and James are about to encounter them. The four Morgan children have “hair exactly the color of a Brazil nut,” a “light, rich shade as a hazelnut,” “very pale almond-colored curls,” and in one instance, Rowan’s “burnished hair gleamed chestnut.” All four of them have “skin fair as nutmeats.” Why did I bring this up? No reason. I just thought it was an interesting bit of description.

A terrible killing virus is sweeping North America and so the Morgan children are sent off to live with estranged family in England. As you know, England and Ireland are the land of fairies and not too far from the Morgan children’s new digs is the green hill. Wait, I hear you saying. Everyday children being sent to live with relatives and encountering a magical world of fairies? Haven’t I read this story before? Isn’t this sort of like the Narnia books or, more recently, The Fablehaven books?

The answer is yes, Esteemed Reader. But you know that movie where the guy’s wife/daughter/son is kidnapped and he has to fight and/or kill a whole bunch of people to get her/him back, culminating in massive action sequences? What’s the name of that movie? Taken? Air Force One? Die Hard 1-4? Entire seasons of 24?

My point, Esteemed Reader, is that there are some set ups that just plain work and always will and this is one of them. Sometimes there are four children, sometimes it’s just one, sometimes the parents die, sometimes they’re sick, but children being sent off to live in a strange place where magic happens is a staple of middle grade fiction and one we’ll be seeing hundreds of years from now (in that great library in the sky). I believe the technical term is arc plot, but in any case, it’s got a beat you can dance to and it’s the kind of set up you might just consider repurposing for your own novel. Or do you prefer that your protagonist receive a letter or some other notification that something special about them is the reason they are traveling to the place with the magic (owl delivery optional)?

It’s the details of the set up and what happens once the children reach the magical place that make the story. In Under the Green Hill, Rowan is enlisted in a fairy battle (awesome) and Meg wants desperately to talk him out of it, but you know how boys get when fairy wars are involved. There’s also a little jerk named Finn that the children have to deal with, and it’s a good move on Sullivan’s part. Children rarely have to deal with fairies, but other children, especially nasty ones like Finn are a reality and one day the Finns of the world grow up to be adult jerks and we have to deal with them then too.

Under the Green Hill is fun and exciting and, at times, even a little scary. The writing is unique and worth studying. I actually have several passages to share with you, including this one, which I think is a great description of a writer at work whether it was intended to be or not:

Alone on the Rookery rooftop, Meg chewed thoughtfully on her lip. She had intended to do some real thinking, but if you’ve ever tried to do this you know the closest you ever get is daydreaming. Thinking happens on its own when you least expect it—you get good ideas when you really need them, not when you’re just looking for them.

As for craft, there’s a lot of things in Sullivan’s prose we could talk about and only so much time, so let’s talk about perspective. Most middle grade novels are written in either fixed third person perspective or first person narration. Sullivan has the courage to be an omnipresent narrator. And I’m not talking about changing character viewpoints with each chapter like we saw in The Underneath. I’m talking about changing perspectives from paragraph to paragraph. Example:

“Oh…,” Phyllida began, and stopped as if she was sorting through truth and lies and evasions, deciding on which would serve best just then. She settled on a vague version of the truth. "It's another holiday, like Beltane. The fairies have a... a ritual they do on a Midsummer. Nothing you have to worry about."

A ritual? She must mean the Midsummer War for which the queen recruited Rowan. Meg's mouth gaped and closed as she tried to decide whether to tell Phyllida. I'll tell her, Meg decided.

Now here is something I have not seen much of in modern fiction. Usually, a shift in perspective like this one is evidence of writer error:) But not so in Under the Green Hill, or per my review policy, I wouldn’t point it out. The shifts continue throughout the work and though Meg is our usual perspective, by the novel’s end, the reader has experienced every character’s take on the story. And here it works because this is an epic tale with a lot of unique characters and a lot of action, and it is fun to get a peak inside the head of everyone.

But this shifting does keep us at a slight distance from all of the characters as a result. Therefore, when considering omniscient narration in a story, as with all writing choices, the writer must weigh the pros and cons in deciding what method best serves the work. Sullivan made her choice and I think the novel is richer and more interesting for it.

And that’s gonna do it. As always, I’ll leave you with some of my favorite passages from Under the Green Hill:

On one side they glimpsed an enormous room dominated by a wooden dining table, its unlit candelabra like ghastly dead spiders with their legs in the air.

He blew his nose softly, as though to do the job properly with so many people around might be rude.

“Why did you say yes, Rowan?” Meg said, wringing her hands. (Hand wringing is a very awkward thing to do. But perhaps when one is distraught, it feels more natural.)

She twanged the string and leaned close to it, smiling, as the vibrations spoke to her.

Meg Morgan charged through the dairy doors, where she was at once confronted by the solemn face and unyielding bulk of the dun cow. She blocked Meg’s path and refused to budge, looking at her in that particularly cowlike way that says, Sorry, but I really know best.

To read an interview with author Laura L. Sullivan or to read interviews with other writers and literary agents, log on to my blog at www.middlegradeninja.blogspot.com

Profile Image for Theresa.
1,246 reviews40 followers
July 12, 2019
I have been a fan of all things fairy for as long I can remember. I own lots of fairy art books, practically every Brian Froud book there is, and yet I felt like I was not worthy of this book. The author crafted this book with such brilliance that I swear it has to be her actual life that she is potraying as fiction. How is it so seemless? I found myself mesmerized again and again as she mentions countless fairies. It never seems like she wrote stuff down and worked it together, it seems like a living piece.

The Morgan kids, along with Finn and Dickie head to England to avoid the fever. Little does anyone know but the Morgans are the bloodline to protect a sacred area of fairy, and they are coming up on the Midsummer War.

I love how subtle she sows in the fact that Meg is never as enamored as everyone else. Her attitude is really what saves everyone.

The character of Finn was an interesting one. I kept waiting for the trite ending, but it never went that way. All of characters in fact stayed pretty close to who they were at the beginning, which is really how people actually are.

The Lemman plot was really amazing. I loved that only Meg made the slightest difference and the nod she gives when Meg is losing it about Bran.

It really is hard to explain how tremendous this book is without spoiling it, but if you are a fan of fairies no matter how old you are, read this book!
Profile Image for avery.
102 reviews8 followers
January 4, 2021
The way that Sullivan writes sounds like she is speaking the story, and adding a little bit of commentary. I really liked that writing style and I think it fits the plot very well. Speaking of the plot, oh my goodness, that was so so good. It drew me in immediately. I was quick to like the characters (or dislike; I’m looking at you Finn Fachan), but there was one character that I think could have been omitted entirely. James was barely mentioned and when he was, it wasn’t that important. However, this book was pretty great.
August 5, 2017
Pacing is a little slow and confusing occasionally; and there were too many characters that didn't do anything for the story. But I enjoyed the concept as a whole.
Profile Image for Wysteria Campion.
102 reviews9 followers
January 25, 2018
Interesting piece. You don't often see the fae in modern literature. I enjoyed it thoroughly.
Profile Image for Hazel West.
Author 25 books132 followers
October 31, 2013
Thoughts on the Overall Book: This was a pleasantly enjoyable read, and while not the best fairy book I have ever read, it had a lot of the traditional tales and such that are always fun to see in such books for lovers of fairy lore.

Cover--Yea or Nay: Yes, I love this cover. It's so pretty and it obviously states what the book is about.

Characters: Meg is a nice protagonist. I liked her because, even though she's not the oldest of the siblings, she's the oldest girl and kind of takes on a motherly role among her brothers a sister. She smart but not without human failings which are obvious to see in the story. Rowan, the older brother, is practical, a quiet scholarly wise type of person, and I liked him too. Silly, the younger sister was your typical tomboy and she was enjoyable as well. As for the other children, I liked Dickie, who was the shy, bookworm, and the one who did all the research on fairies, so I liked him, of course. And I was rather devided in my opinion of Finn. As he was written and what he did, I didn't like him, obviously, but I had the feeling that he just wasn't or shouldn't have been as bad as he was portrayed to be. Because he was so young, I didn't think he should have been as malicious as he was, but that was just my opinion. I do think he should have had more of a defining moment and turned for the good in the end but since there's another book, I suppose his story isn't finished. I loved great aunt and uncle Ash, they were nice characters and Bran was your typical brooding, closed-off-from-the-world-for-his-own-reasons character. I also really liked Lemman the otter girl, even though she wasn't in the story a lot. In short there was a good cast of characters, and I liked the sibling relationships.

The Romance: None

Writing Style: The style was my favorite part of this book, actually. It's written in kind of an old fashioned style, and read like a fairy tale, which is essentially what this is. I also liked how, while the book is all in third person, we got to see the insights of almost all the characters. I think that works good for this kind of story. The author also seems to have done quite a bit of research into fairy lore, and since I love that, I like to see people using the old legends and tales.

Accuracy/ Believability: Not totally applicable, but there was one thing that bothered me. The children are sent to England because of a major flu epidemic in the US. I wouldn't have had so much of a problem with this if it was set in the past, but as a modern day story, this was just a little strange, and I half expected the epidemic to have been some cause of the fairies, but it was never explained and it just kind of seemed a little weird to me. It just seemed almost like the author needed something drastic to happen to get the characters where they needed to be. The flu doesn't feature in any part of the story apart from that, so it just seemed a little off, but it might not bother everyone.

Problems/What bothered me: Apart from what I mentioned above, there were actually a couple things that bothered me

Conclusion:3 stars. An enjoyable read for any who like family stories and fairy stories.

Recommended Audience: 10 and up, readers who enjoyed the Spiderwick books would probably like this too.
Profile Image for Lawral.
169 reviews23 followers
May 16, 2011
I'm a bit partial to books about kids in unfamiliar old houses who stumble upon magical worlds. Extra points if that old house is in the English countryside. Extra, extra points if the kids get caught up in an epic war requiring brave heroics. There was never any doubt in my mind that I would love Under the Green Hill.

I want to be so very grown-up and objective and say that what I found so attractive in this book was its own sense of place in and reverence to the tradition of books about kids in unfamiliar old houses, so on and so forth. Or that I loved the allusions to other fairy/faerie stories that I caught but will probably fly over the heads of young readers. Or that I was excited about a middle grade book featuring a position of power passed down through the maternal line, with almost inconsequential (but loved!) husbands marrying into the family to help produce the all important female heir and spare. Or even that I was enchanted by Sullivan's use of language. For example:

Dickie could tell it was extraordinary just from the smell. An odor of knowledge permeated the air, ghosts of arcane secrets wafted about by the breeze the children made when they opened the door. Here were books more rare than any first editions. ... The air seemed stale, as though no one had visited that room in decades. But, oddly, though there was dust on all visible surfaces, the library didn't make Dickie sneeze. Books have their own peculiar kind of dustiness, which didn't catch in his nose the same way cat's hair or thistle pollen might.

I could say all of that, and it would all be true (especially that last one). But what really made me fall in love with Under the Green Hill was the story, pure and simple. I'm a sucker for a good fantasy adventure, and this one is full of that goodness: a beautiful setting that is recognizable but still full of fantastical elements, betrayal, swamp monsters, life and death stakes, war-training, a wise benefactress who one can only hope will make everything okay, an enemy that isn't so evil that anyone really wants to kill him, a sensible sister who tries to be the voice of reason, and a brother hell-bent on grand acts of heroism. Plus an added bonus (that I'm also a sucker for): a selkie!

So Finn, Dickie, and even youngest brother James are a bit underdeveloped. That's okay; they each serve their purpose in the story, hindering or helping the rest of the Morgans along. There's also a little ambiguity in the beginning about when this story is set. It feels like it should be set in the past, between World Wars perhaps, what with the incurable fever ravaging America's children and names like Finn, Rowan and Dickie, but Finn despairs about the DVDs and video games he brought with him to England but can't use since the Rookery has no electricity. It's also possible that I projected a former time on a book whose time period should be last week. Regardless, time period ceased to matter once all the children reached the Rookery and the real story started.

In case you missed it the first two times I said it, I loved this book and I think you all should read it! More professionally, I think other fantasy adventure readers are sure to enjoy it, and it will be an immediate hit with readers looking for something to read once they've run out of Narnia books.

Book source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Profile Image for Turrean.
909 reviews21 followers
December 4, 2016
There would be scenes where I was delighted by the language and insights into how people relate to one another. For example when we first meet Phyllida and Lysander, the author makes the wry comment, "When people have lived together for six decades and played as children in the years before that, many of their conversations go by rote, and often entire arguments can take place with a brief glance." Some authors don't try to unpack the feelings of grownups to their young readers, but this felt delightfully different.

That lasted until I met Finn, who, for an American boy, has a strangely Draco Malfoy-ish vocabulary. He threatens to have someone "sacked" and uses "filthy" and "loony" as pejoratives. And there are some odd changes of tense ("But Phyllida Ash would have done what she had to even if she must do it from a mud hut") and annoying narrator-ish intrusions ("Finn, as you can see, had a rather inflated idea of his own importance...")

I found this such a slog, with no convincing character development. Dickie, Rowan, and Finn seemed mere caricatures of the nerd, the goody-goody, and the sneering teen (with Finn's ultimate punishment wildly out of proportion to his villainy. So much angst is expended the ageless Bran, and none at all for the spoiled boy, ruined by his parents and sent where he is not wanted. And Dickie, to my mind the most interesting of the characters, is dismissed in the little teaser for book two as "pale, pudgy, sniffling." ) The fairy world seemed contrary and confused, with last-minute changes in the "rules" to allow the children to survive. The incongruities of the times are irritating. If this is the year 2010, and these are American children, why do the girls wear dresses all the time, even to train with weapons? Why does no one have a cell phone; why can't they drive into town to make a call to the children's parents? Why is there a child with mumps in England in 2010? It felt as if the novel sometimes slipped into Nesbit-time.

I wanted so much to like this. The interweaving of a folklore world with the real world was so gracefully done that it made my disappointment in the unfolding of the plot sting even more.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
246 reviews
November 15, 2010
Because of a mysterious illness sweeping through the United States, Rowan, Meg, Silly and James Morgan are sent to live with distant relatives in England that they have never met before. Joining them are two other children, Dickie and Finn. Once there, the children are given a lot of freedom to explore but also are told a few rules that the need to follow - most of them very odd such as not giving your name to strangers. Of course, as childen are going to do, they proceed to quickly break many of the rules. As a result, Rowan becomes the champion of the Fairy Queen of the Seelie Court in the Midsummer's Night War that takes place every seven years. The champion must fight the chosen of the Unseelie Court to the death.

This was the first book that I've ever read that looked at the Faery world and its interaction with the human world. I really enjoyed the first parts of the book - getting to know the children and their early explorations in England. The middle of the book dragged a little bit. I found parts of it a little hard to believe. The childrens Aunt, Phyllida, is the guardian of the human world and knows all about the fairies but she leaves the children to their own devices with little supervision of them during the day even though she knows that the Fairy War takes place this year. I suppose that not having children of her own she doesn't realize that kids are curious. She also never notices the children training in the garden with weapons. I also didn't think much of the other children - Dickie and Finn. Dickie is a bookworm who spend most of his time in the library learning about fairies. Finn is just a bully who uses Dickie to learn about the fairy world. He tries to pit Dickie against the other children but because for most of the book there is no interaction between the Morgan children and the others it just didn't work as part of the story. The ending of the book helps make up for the middle portion as Meg tries to save her brother.

Profile Image for Kim.
1,406 reviews25 followers
September 8, 2010
From September 2010 SLJ:
Gr 5–8—When a life-claiming illness sweeps across the United States, college professors Tom and Glynnis Morgan send their children to England to stay with elderly relatives they have never met. Rowan, Meg, Priscilla, and James are accompanied by malicious Finn Fachan and timid Dickie Rhys, sons of other professors. When great-great-aunt Phyllida Ash gives her six guests a list of rules the first evening (stay out of the forest, never accept food from outside the Rookery, do not tell strangers your names), they view her warnings as old superstitions. However, these admonitions have a practical basis: it is a seventh summer. Phyllida's ancestors have always been the human guardians of the Green Hill, a sacred place to the fairies since the beginning of time, and it is now her job to mediate between the two remaining fairy courts, and to keep the balance between humans and fairies. Despite Phyllida's warnings, the children are drawn into the forest, where they meet the queen of the Seelie Court. Every seventh summer, the Midsummer War must be fought between the two fairy courts if the land is to remain verdant, and tradition holds that each court will choose a human champion who will fight to the death. When the Fairy Queen asks Rowan if he will champion the cause for the Seelie Court, he gladly accepts. Meg must weigh keeping her older brother from what she believes will be certain death against interfering with an age-old practice whose absence could destroy the land. Sullivan draws heavily on her knowledge of Middle English folklore and creates a story rich with memorable characters and evocative language. The ending begs for a sequel in which readers can learn more about the history between the two opposing fairy courts and how the Morgan children fulfill their destinies.—Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA
Profile Image for Lynne.
195 reviews25 followers
September 29, 2012
I discovered this book on one of the fantasy lists here on Goodreads. First of all, the fantastic cover caught my eye (which is simply ah-mazing by the way) and then after reading the synopsis I was completely intrigued.

Under the Green Hill starts out in a small town in New York but you quickly find yourself, along with the characters, whisked away to the magical countryside of England, near the (fictional?) town of Gladysmere, where the lore of fairies, brownies, leprechauns and other mystical creatures of fantasy are still quite alive and well.

The main characters, siblings Rowan, Meg, Silly and their baby brother James along with two of their schoolmates, Finn and Dickie are sent away to escape the plaque running rampant in New York to stay with their estranged relatives in England who live at a grand mansion called the Rookery.
The siblings soon learn about their secret family background and discover their heritage is full of mystical happenings. Ultimately, and as fate would have it, they discover they are destined to fantastic obligations that must be fulfilled... and if they don't succeed, all the magic will disappear.

On one side they have limited assistance from their relatives, but then they also have interference from Finn (who is an uppity, dislikeable sort of character from the start) and there's Dickie, who generally stays out of the way for most of the story but ultimately ends up being quite helpful.

Aimed at middle grade ages (8-13) the story was fairly predictable, although there were still some great surprises along the way.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story and am looking forward to reading the next book in this series.

Recommend to children interested in fantasy, folklore and mystical beings. Although adults will find this story just as enjoyable .... in fact, it would be a great book to read to your kids at night!
Profile Image for Miriam.
91 reviews1 follower
July 8, 2011
In the face of a dangerous influenza outbreak in the U.S. Rowan, Meg, Silly (Priscilla), and James Morgan are shipped off, superfluously accompanied by their nemesis Finn Fachan, and meek, allergic Dickie Rhys, to spend the summer with estranged maternal relatives on a rambling English estate. The children promptly defy their guardians’ rules and find that exploring the estate, with its countless rooms full of ancient books and armor, and even a hidden door in a wardrobe, is yet nothing to exploring the surrounding woods, which happen to be teeming with fairies. Bewitched by the fairy queen, Rowan pledges to fight for her court in the upcoming Midsummer War and Rowan, Meg, and Silly are soon in combat training under the tutelage of the fairy prince. Meg, more cautious and thoughtful than Rowan and Silly, is the obvious protagonist, but even her character is not well-developed, and it’s hard telling why youngest brother James and the tag-alongs, Finn and Dickie, exist at all. Sullivan imagines an interesting collection of fairies, but the characters are too slight to maintain interest. The most interesting aspect of the story is the children’s great-grandfather’s restlessness and ceaseless longing for the delights of the fairy realm - directly compared to a drug addiction - and the effects of his addiction and decades-long absence on his family, but I was troubled by the way this was ultimately dealt with, or rather avoided, through the use of magical elements. The blend of dark realities - a plague, a father’s debilitating addiction and absence - with magic elements is disjointed and unsatisfying. The realities are too lightly dealt with and the events of the story, real and magical, don’t enlighten each other or the characters.
Profile Image for Terri Lynn.
997 reviews
March 12, 2012
What a delicious book! I savored every page of it and was sorry when it ended. In her acknowledgements at the end of the book, the author Laura Sullivan thanks her agent for comparing her work to that of E. Nesbit and C.S. Lewis. The agent is wrong. This book EXCEEDS anything that Nesbit and Lewis ever wrote and I don't say that lightly.

Our story starts with two mossy stones in the English countryside coming to life. Thousands of miles away in America, two college professors prepare to send their 4 children Rowan, Meg, Silly (Priscilla) and little James to the wife's elderly relatives at the Rookery in England at a particularly dangerous time for the Rookery is in the area of the fairies and on this 7th year, a teind -the death of a human in a battle- must take place at midsummer.

The children's great aunt and uncle are NOT thrilled that they show up at such a time and try to give them and the two other boys who are send with them- Finn and Dickie- instructions on how to stay safe but of course they ignore that from the first day on and enter a world that will leave one person dead and another blind. The fairies are not cute little things but have a different moral code than humans and are both bewitching and deadly.

This book is really wonderfully written. I lingered over many lines and reread even as I read! I read the library's copy and now have to purchase my own so I can enter this magical world again and again. This book is mature though there is some subtle humor and heartbreaking in places. The author of the Hunger Games could have learned some lessons by reading this. Meg is the star of this book and she is a heroine to inspire even adults. You won't want to miss this jewel.
Profile Image for Alan.
295 reviews8 followers
December 20, 2010
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 320 pages
Lexile: 1030L

Rowan, Meg, Silly and James are sent by their parents from America to England to stay with their Great Aunt Ash and Great Uncle Lysander (or perhaps Great Great) in England to keep them safe from an outbreak of influenza in the States. Little did they know the trouble they may be sending them into.
Their Aunt and Uncle it turns out live at a special place, the Rookery. The Rookery is located near the Green Hill, the home of the Seelie Court and their Queen. The kids arrive just in time for May Day, or Beltane an ancient fertility festival and while the people of the town near the Rookery have their traditional celebrations to attend to, the children have been warned not to leave the house. Of course kids being kids, they leave the house and meet up with Gul Ghilie who shows them the traditional celebrations of Red hill, but also takes them to the Green Hill in time to see the Hill open and the Queen and her court come out of the hill for "The fairy rade", and this year is the seventh year, the year the sacrifice must be made, the two humans must battle each other till death, the battle to take place on Midsummer. The Queen must choose her champion and the Dark Host must choose their own. She chooses Rowan as her champion, little did they know the trouble they may be sending them into.
Profile Image for KCM73.
241 reviews10 followers
January 5, 2011
In this book, six young Americans (the 4 Morgan siblings and 2 others) travel to a remote area of England for the summer to escape a serious illness plaguing the US. From the moment the Morgans arrive at the Rookery, the home of their great-aunt and great-uncle, they realize that the world is much bigger, broader and different than they ever dreamed, a world filled with fairies, brownies and all manner of other creatures. All four Morgans are quickly drawn into that world after Rowan, the eldest, falls under the glamour of the Fairy Queen and promises to give his life in her service. Meg, the eldest Morgan girl, sets out to protect her brother while guarding the structure that allows fairies and humans to live together in relative peace. The world created at the Rookery feels authentic and the Morgans (especially Meg) immediately draw you in. The book is filled with interesting characters, both good and ill. That said, some of the fairy history is somewhat complex and the background/history gets a bit clumsy at parts. Overall, this is a very strong first novel. I would be interested in reading more about this world and about the Morgan children, especially Priscilla (Silly).
204 reviews1 follower
July 11, 2013
This was a good book for kids to read but a little older kids, middle school is a good age. There is a LOT of higher level vocab in this book but the story seems to appeal to younger kids. I even tripped over a couple words and had a dictionary next to me just incase. I could see younger kids wanting to read this but not quite getting through it. I have no idea what the "lexile" is on it but it's gotta be high because I can see 8th graders struggling with this a little. My son's in 6th grade and there were LOTS of questions about what words meant and he's got a vast vocabulary. All in all, it was a good story, one of those "be careful what you wish for" "things are not what they seem" and "This is why you should listen to grown ups" type lessons in there. It was exciting and had all the elements kids will enjoy, fairies, kids, adventure, weapons, a war and mythical other creatures. It was not boring but again, better for older kids because it's not an easy read. I've never needed a dictionary to read a James Patterson book.
Profile Image for Cindy.
76 reviews
November 13, 2010
I won this from first reads and it took me a week to read it but only because I had to go to work. The first day I read over half the book. I loved it, it's a wonderful story with great charactors and a surprise ending that was not expected. I dont want to give away too much because I know family members will read this too. It started out fast, had wonderful discriptions of places and things I now wish I could see. I loved the house they stayed at, the Rookery. Interesting name and definately a house that would be fun to explore. Finn was a brat, but Dickie turned out to be a good nut The Morgans were all good and then there was Bran. Again, I don't want to spoil it so I won't say anything about Bran. Of course I want to meet Gul Ghillie and Lemman. I hope this author writes more books, I will be there to read and enjoy them.
Profile Image for Heather.
238 reviews2 followers
November 28, 2010
I was so excited to win this book as a first reads give away from Goodreads. It really does work to enter the drawings! When I started reading this book I had to laugh a little because the whole premise of getting the kids to England made me think "swine flu". I had kind of a hard time getting into this book, though. I kept thinking "Fablehaven" in my mind and Fablehaven is one of my favorite book series ever. Kids sent to live with relatives they didn't know well, isolated from the real world with strange rules and mysterious charcters-very Fablehave like. However, once I decided to focus on the story instead of looking for similarities, I was pleasantly surprised. This was a fun new outlook on the whole "fairy" thing. It was slightly predictable, but was still really fun to read. This would be great for young kids as well as adults that enjoy a good fairy story.
Profile Image for Julie Graves.
905 reviews27 followers
March 1, 2011
The Morgan children, Rowan, Meg, Priscilla(Silly for short), and James are sent to live with relatives in England to escape the fever in the States. They are looking forward to exploring the house with many rooms and the countryside around them.

What they discover is a land of fairies. Shortly after arriving they find themselves in the midst of preparations for the fairy war. Every 7th year the Midsummer War takes place. The Seelie Court and the Host meet under the Green Hill to do battle. They choose one human from each side to fight to the death. The fairy queen is so beautiful that she has put a spell on Rowan who pledges to fight for her.

Meg is distraught and determined to find a way to save her brother from fighting in the war. What will be the outcome of this most interesting Midsummer War?

I enjoyed this story very much! It was entertaining and exciting to read.

Profile Image for Rachel.
1,201 reviews17 followers
June 8, 2013
Rowan, Meg, Silly and James (and non-related, narrative extras Dickie and Finn) are being sent to their Great Aunt's home in England to escape the fever that is sweeping their academic community. Out of the frying pan and into the fire, as it turns out (Fablehaven-like) Auntie has rules about where they can and can't go. Being the free-thinkers they are, they all march into the woods around the castle in response to a dare from the objectionable Finn, and into varying degrees of trouble.

A little bit Fablehaven, a little bit CS Lewis, and a little bit fairy lore redressed for a new generation, all characters except for Meg are cardboard cut outs, and even Meg isn't a terribly complex character. I usually swallow stuff like this whole, but I had a harder time with this one. Not bad, but not brilliant.
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