Book/page totals

Top 10 Lists

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

cover of McKillip's 'Bell at Sealey Head'

Every night in the small harbor town of Sealey Head, just as the sun goes down, an invisible bell tolls. It's happened every day for as long as any of the inhabitants can remember, and most of the inhabitants don't even notice it anymore. But a few of the younger people are fascinated, or perhaps even obsessed with it-- Judd Cauley, the innkeeper's son; the merchant's daughter, Gwyneth Blair, who sits at her little desk in the attic and writes story after story trying to make sense of the bell; and even a visiting scholar from the city, Mr. Ridley Dow. Emma, who works as a scullery maid at Aislinn House, also knows there is something magical about the place-- ever since she was a child, sometimes the doors in the house open onto a castle in some other place, where she sees a girl near her own age, a princess named Ysabo.

Ysabo lives in a strange, warped, fairy-tale of a world. Her life is full of many of the familiar trappings of a fairy-tale princess in a castle, except that her days are filled with meaningless rituals that must be performed just so, without asking why-- open this door, lock that one, turn a page in the book full of blank pages, feed the scraps to the crows on the battlement. She finds herself betrothed to a cold, nameless knight among the many who come and feast in the great hall every night, and that is when she can hardly bear the rituals without asking questions.

Ridley Dow eventually wanders into Aislinn House and through a door that Emma opens into that other world; he is trying to discover, and hopefully undo, something that a great-grand-something sorcerer ancestor of his did centuries ago. Both Ridley and Ysabo face danger, and Ysabo must break away from some of her daily rituals in order to help him. Eventually, we learn why the bell has been tolling such an agonizingly sad sound every night, the spell is broken, and meaning brought back into the dead rituals of Ysabo's life.

Title:The Bell at Sealey Head
Author:Patricia A. McKillip
Date published:2008
Number of pages:277


Google Search