The Bell at Sealey Head by Patricia A. McKillip, Ace Hardcover, 2008.
In my opinion, Patrica A. McKillip is one of the best fantasy authors on the planet. I love her lyrical language and her ability to weave odd bits of old folk and fairy tales into something new. Her stories read like those written two or three centuries ago or better yet never written, but told around camp fires or in an inn filled with wood smoke, laughter and marvelous food.
The Bell at Sealey Head is the story of a seaside town, it’s people and it’s history. There is magic and mystery. There is a hidden world within the ancient Aislinn House, containing a spellbound land and, of course, a princess, Ysabo. The tale turns on an invisible bell that rings at sundown. The townspeople have their own theories about the bell, most fail to hear it anymore.
Judd, the son of a local innkeeper, hears the bell, but is too busy reading books and preparing for guests to wonder about it much. Gywneth, daughter of a local merchant, hears it and spends all her free time writing wonderful stories trying to unravel the bell’s mystery. When Ridley Dow, a stranger from the city, arrives the mystery deepens, eventually drawing the others into a final struggle to break the spell.
I enjoyed this book, but not as much as other McKillip novels. I think it is because the last book I read, Solstice Wood, is a more modern take on the same idea, a seaside town and a mysterious house. I also have to say that the ending of seemed a bit rushed. Do not let that deter you, this is a wonderful read.