| Home | Fiction | Listserv | Creative Archives | Scholarly Archives |
| Book Review Archives | Critical Essays | Contribute | Search the Site |

Gormglaith
By Heidi Wyss

This novel is available on line at http://www.literateweb.com/wyss/wyss00i.htm
Review by: Morgaine Swann

12/01/04

Take my advice and start with the Glossary. If you get through that, you might just love this book. If nothing else, you'll dig the illustrations. Whoever designed them is a daft Witch-- which is high praise coming from me. The Glossary begins thus:

Although Gormglaith has no made up words (neologisms), some are drawn from Gaelic, Celtic, Irish, Dutch or Norse (which has its feminist sway) with bits of slang and gweepspeak. These meanings can be gleaned from the tale and are here to help with glarks.

If that didn't set your heart aflutter, run like hell. This may be genius, it may be madness, but if you don't love deciphering old languages, this is not the place for you. This is hardcore Fantasy fare.

There is a market for this book. I'm sure there are Druids and Wiccans who'll devour it whole; there are sci-fi, Klingon-speaking boys who'll relish debating the use of the Dutch and the Norse words when Saxon might do; LOTR fans who'll sleep out for tickets to the movie and Witchy young women enamored of fantasy books on all things Keltic (and I do mean Keltic with a K, as in really old Irish origins) and romantic with a magickal (also with a 'k') bent. Don't get me wrong -- I love those people with all my heart, and I'll be telling all of the ones I know to read this book. Alas, knowing them and loving them does not make me one of them.

For my part, I had trouble getting into it. It isn't just a book -- it's a project. From the first page, it was incomprehensible and there was nothing there to draw me in, or make me care enough to dig in. A little seduction, or at least introduction, would go a long way. It felt like a female Finnegan's Wake, with all that implies, good and bad. It had touches of Tolkien and reminded me in some ways of the very intricate work of Patricia Kennealy-Morrison's Keltiad novels. If that appeals to you, I recommend this book.

Contact Women Writers