Writer: Tom Muir
Publishing House: The History Press
Date of Publication: May 1st 2014
Rating: 5 stars
”Sometimes, during the summer months, you can see phantom islands floating on the sea where there shouldn’t be land at all. There were said to be the summer abodes of the fin folk, called Hind-Land in the North Isles of Orkney.”
Orkney is one of the most mysterious and culturally charged places in Scotland. The amalgam of the Pictish and Viking culture and the untamed nature, the wind, the wild sea, the ages of history and myths have given birth to a land where ancient footsteps can still be heard along the coast, the crossroads, the Neolithic tombs, the traces of a mystical presence. And the afterlife.
(image source: https://www.lovefromscotland.co.uk/visit-orkney-things-to-do/)
Allegedly linked to the Arthurian Saga as the homeland of King Lot, father to Gawain and Agravaine among others, Orkney hides a plethora of treasures. Selkies, fin men, kelpies, witches, ghosts. Witches control storms, vanishing islands can be seen momentarily through the summer fog, shipwrecks and treasures related to the Spanish Armada and dealings with the Devil that never end up well.
Tom Muir has collected a beautiful array of folk tales born in Orkney. We find an interesting legend on how the Mermaid acquired its tale that links the legendary creature to Eve, the tale of Ursilla and her male selkie lover, the strange fate of Janet, the Storm Witch, the quest of Jessie and the Book of the Black Arts, the haunting, tragic tale of Scotta Bess and a man who loved not wisely, but too well, and many more.
The writer includes personal incidents experienced by himself and his family, which makes the reading experience vivid and realistic. Embellished with beautiful illustrations by Sheila Faichney, the tales told by the Orcadians around the fire is one more exciting stop in the legendary journey in Ireland and the British Isles.
”I hope that you will enjoy these tales and maybe, just for a moment, smell the sweet fragrance of the meadow- sweet on the warm summer breeze, hear the song of the lark singing in the skies and catch the gentle lapping of the wolves on an Orkney shore.”