Meg and her siblings have been sent to the English countryside for the summer to stay with elderly relatives. The children are looking forward to exploring the ancient mansion and perhaps discovering a musty old attic or two filled with treasure, but never in their wildest dreams did they expect to find themselves in the middle of a fairy war.
When Rowan pledges to fight for the beautiful fairy queen, Meg is desperate to save her brother. But the Midsummer War is far more than a battle between mythic creatures: Everything that lives depends on it. How can Meg choose between family and the fate of the very land itself?
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Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
September 30, 2010
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Excerpt from Under the Green Hill by Laura L. Sullivan
UNDER THE GREEN HILL (Chapter One)
"Oh dear," said Phyllida Ash as she read the telegram. Even in these days of telephones and e-mail, the only messages that reach the Rookery are hand-delivered by a sly-faced young man who pads down quiet paths from the nearby town of Gladysmere. "They want to come here, 'Sander. On the first of May. Oh, this will never do at all!"
She ran her free hand distractedly through short, thick curls that in some lights were almost lavender. Though she had, even at her great age, a brusque force to her movements, there was something about the way her fingers lingered at the ends of her curls that hinted she'd once been a coquette. Lysander stifled a grunt as he pushed himself up with a stout, gnarled cane and crossed the garden kitchen to put an arm around his wife of sixty years.
"Why now?" she moaned, leaning into him. "Of all the years, of all the times, why does she pick the most dangerous to send her children here?"
Lysander Ash took up the telegram and scanned lines written in the age-old truncated style. Dear Aunt Uncle Ash, stop. "Aunt and uncle, hogwash! Great-aunt and -uncle, maybe...."
"One more 'great,' I think."
"Be that as it may." He read aloud: "Urgent favor needed, stop. Fever rampant in States, stop. Can you take children for summer, interrogative. Awfully grateful, stop. Arriving May One, stop. Rowan, Meg, Priscilla, James, stop. Do they think we don't even know their names?"
"Well, we've never seen them. We've never seen any of them, not since Chlorinda left."
"Your sister wasn't able to take on her responsibilities," Lysander began hotly.
"Now, don't open old wounds," his wife said, with a reproach so gentle it was obvious she'd been repeating it for many years. When people have lived together for six decades, and played as children in the years before that, many of their conversations go by rote, and often entire arguments can take place with a brief glance.
"Four generations living across the ocean, and those children so far removed from what's in their blood. And now they want to traipse across the ocean just in time to get themselves captured or glamoured or torn to shreds!"
"It's not as bad as all that," she said, wondering, as she frequently did, whether he became deliberately contrary just to force her into an opposing tack. She'd been dead against the children's coming the moment she read the telegram, but now, in the face of Lysander's opposition--it was her family, after all--she was almost reconciled to their arrival. "We can take precautions.... They'll be all right if we keep them on the grounds. The house and gardens will be enough for them, and there's nothing that can hurt them there. It will be safer than staying where there's fever. A lot of children are leaving the States, I've heard, or going off to the mountains. I'm ashamed I didn't think to invite them here. Why, our house could hold a hundred children, with no danger to anyone! What harm could four come to?"
"Four children here, at Midsummer, on a seventh year? Even the villagers hide their children at the teind times."
"They'll be fine," she assured him, squeezing his hand. "Bran will look after them. Oh!" She gave a little gasp. "Someone has to tell Bran." She looked worried, perhaps even a bit frightened.
Lysander turned away from her abruptly to poke the low fire that burned winter and summer. "Well, it's not going to be me." After all, he had to put his foot down somewhere.