I don’t like short stories, and I don’t much like it when authors disguise a book of stories as a novel by creating some over-arching narrative that sorta, kinda ties the stories together. Thank goodness, The Seven Tales of Trinket is NOT that kind of book.
Yes, there are seven tales here: folk tales about faeries and banshees and selkies and a gypsy fortune-teller and a pooka. And the journey of Trinket and her friend, the pig-boy Thomas, to find adventure and to find Trinket’s father is the Tale that ties all of the seven tales together. But the book is a meditation and a story about telling stories, about the art of the Irish seanechai or storyteller. And the author, Ms. Thomas, is storyteller herself. So it all works together; it just fits.
As Trinket looks for her father, James the Bard, who left on a story-telling journey of his own long ago and never returned to Trinket and her mother, she grows and becomes the storyteller she wants to be. She’s not a copy of her father or of her beautiful mother, although she carries a little of each of them in herself. She’s Trinket, the Story Lass, her own person and a teller of tales in her own right.
My favorite story of the tales Trinket lives and collects is the story of the The Faerie Queen and the Gold Coin. I delighted in this story of Orla, a girl who’s such an accomplished dancer that the Faerie Queen takes notice and challenges her to a dancing contest. Of course, as Trinket says, “humans and magical beings often see things differently.” The Faerie Queen changes the rules of the contest at the last minute, and Orla must dance the dance of her life to win the contest.
These are lovely stories, drawn from Celtic sources but adapted to fit with and enrich Trinket’s story. If all story collections were this well harmonized and tied together, I’d read more stories. Because it’s a story-telling kind of book, this one would be a great classroom or homeschool read aloud.