Some new books from Acorn Press

Elizabeth Cran
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Books feature unusual plots and breathtaking adventures

One adult mystery and two unusual novels for young people.

Acorn Press has begun the year with a splash — or rather a bang.

The books are called respectively Something Fishy by Hilary MacLeod (no price given); The Last Wild Boy by Hugh MacDonald ($12.95) and Kira’s Secret by Orysia Dawidiak ($12.95).

Each of these books is pretty well written (though there are a lot of spelling mistakes in the two latter books). They also have unusual plots and breathtaking adventures.

This is also true of Something Fishy, though some of its adventures are fantastic and some can be explained.

For instance, the cooked herring falling from the sky which gives its name to the book are explained, whereas the fall of unusual snakes at the end is not — and maybe cannot be.

The Last Wild Boy is a study of male and female relations. MacDonald, who is well-known on the Island in several capacities and has received a number of awards, has now turned his talents to a subject about which much confusion exists and has treated it in the form of a fantasy novel for older children and adolescents — though adults can read it with profit too.

Nora, companion to Alice, the mayor’s daughter, in the all-women community, finds a newborn male baby within the walls of the town. Legally, he must be killed at once or sent to live with the other “outsiders.”

But he’s so cute! And so trusting. What will Nora do? She decides to leave the city and devote herself to Adam, as they’ve named the baby.

MacDonald handles this touchy theme carefully, but not awkwardly. This is a book to read, discuss and maybe read again after your sister, wife and/or daughter have read it, too.

Kira’s Secret is a more straightforward story about a girl who’s strongly attracted to the sea where she’s been forbidden to go. She goes anyway and discovers she’s a mermaid.

One of the most distinctive features of this book is the description of the life under the sea and on the land. So vivid are they that one would think Dawidiak had been there herself.

Altogether a good book and yet another witness to her versatility, MacLeod’s Something Fishy is something of a disappointment. Mainly the plot is confusing and some of the writing seems weary. Perhaps the successful novelist needs a rest.

Elizabeth Cran is a freelance writer who writes a book review column for The Guardian.

To comment or to send her books to review, write her at Her new address is: 95 Orange Street, Apt. 101, Saint John NB, E2L 1M5. or call her at 506-693-5498.

Organizations: Something Fishy, Acorn Press, The Guardian

Geographic location: 95 Orange Street

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