Fire and Hemlock

by Diana Wynne Jones

Greenwillow Books, May, 2002.
Hardcover, 420 pages.
ISBN: 0060298855

Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones Nineteen year old Polly is in her bedroom looking at one of her favorite paintings, entitled Fire and Hemlock, when she has a strange experience. The painting stirs a sudden memory of her old friend, Thomas Lynn whom she knew for years. But how could she have forgotten Thomas? And why does one of her favorite books seem to contain different stories than it used to? Polly concentrates, and suddenly she realizes that she has two sets of memories for the past several years. We are taken back to Polly's past, where as a young girl playing a game, she mistakenly wanders into a funeral at the big mysterious house down the street from her grandmother's home. There she meets the mild-mannered young man, Thomas Lynn. The two become unlikely friends, sharing a love of make believe, fantasy and adventure. But people keep warning her to stay away from Thomas, and Thomas' ex-wife seems to hold some kind of terrible power over him. Can Polly find out what's going on, and break the curse that holds Thomas in thrall?

British author Diana Wynne Jones is one of fantasy's best-kept secrets. HarperCollins is now releasing in hardcover some of her classic stories, which is nothing but good news for American readers. Fire and Hemlock is based on the Celtic folktales of Tam Lin and Thomas the Rhymer, and Ms. Jones does an excellent job of translating the old folk tale into a thriller that modern audiences can relate to. Her depiction of adolescence is insightful, and her mastery of a magical and menacing atmosphere is outstanding. This is an enchanting tale for all ages.

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This review was published in the June, 2002 of The Internet Writing Journal.

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