No One Refuses the Wild Hunt

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I have read about the Wild Hunt as a part of a story in only two other instances. One was Jane Yolen’s “The Wild Hunt” and the other was Merrie Haskell’s “Handbook for Dragon Slayers”.

The first few chapters artfully weave in elements of the maiden snatched away by a mysterious suitor or dangerous monster, the tale of Rumpelstiltskin and the Wild Hunt itself that descends from the sky with its train of ghosts, revenants and ghastly hounds.

But this book explores the notion of the Hunt with more attention than in those other two examples. Here, the members of the Hunt chime in with their own commentary. Women with blood leaking from slit throats dryly voice their opinions about a girl’s truthfulness. A man with a chisel through his eye acts as coachman and jailer, warning the same maiden that the Master of the Hunt is not a patient, kind or forgiving man.

But it is Serilda herself who captures the attention. A creative liar, a master storyteller, she spins tales to entertain the village children. These tales enthrall, mesmerize and horrify. Like the best of stories, they don’t shy away from the grim and grisly but use the elements to lend spice and depth. Apart from her gifts at telling tales, Serilda strikes you as being thoughtful, kind, mischievous, humorous and loving. She is also rebellious, thoughtless, lazy and occasionally cruel in the way children can be to their parents.

Ms. Meyer deftly captures the feel of a cold, European village, a world where the chill of ice and snow can hide something more sinister than the threat of death by hypothermia. This story left me alternately thrilled and chilled and longing to know what happened next. It is as riveting as only a gifted story weaver can make it.