Okay, I got to read this book by Eloise Jarvis McGraw recently and decided to blog about it here. Most of my readers are likely aware that Eloise was a prolific author, and among her many books were three Oz books, one of them being Merry-Go-Round in Oz, the last book of the Famous Forty. (Her daughter Lauren had some input on her Oz books, and her mother gave her co-author credit.)
So, yes, that does mean I'll blog about books by Oz authors. (I may not be limiting it to Famous Forty authors, either...)
The story isn't too specific about exactly where it takes place. I read that it is supposed to be medieval England, but for all I was concerned, it could have been there, Ireland, or even a nonexistent land.
Old Bess, an herbalist, sees that something is not right about her new grandchild Saaski. She realizes it must be a changeling: a fairy or goblin in human form replacing a kidnapped baby.
The truth is, she is correct, but what the truth is, even she could not have guessed. Saaski is actually Moql, formerly a member of "the Folk," a fairy race that lives on the Moor. She is actually half Folk, and half human, and when she fails to hide from a human, the prince makes her a changeling, making her live with humans.
Saaski, however, only has extremely vague memories of her life with the Folk and is sure she must be human. However, everyone notices she is odd. There are some who accept her, like Yanno and Anwara, her "parents," and even old Bess and the shepherd boy Tam. But most of the town is suspicious, and soon begin to fear her, some even harshly evading her. Saaski just wants to be accepted.
Overall, the book was very enjoyable. I thought the take was very unique, and a little comparable to how Baum reinvented the story of "The Gingerbread Man" as John Dough & the Cherub. Most Changeling Child stories end with the parents or a suspicious adult avoiding their child from being taken, or rescuing their child. The Moorchild tells the story mostly from the Changeling's point of view, with the original twist that the replacement is initially unaware it isn't human.
There are a few ideals from Baum in the story, such as when Bess confronts Yanno and Anwara about Saaski's true identity, they decide against trying to kill or harm her to get their child back, for even if it was a Changeling, it would not be right to treat a living creature in such a way. This echoes Ozma's refusal to fight in The Emerald City of Oz.
The writing is very well done, engaging and easy to read. Some less experienced readers might be put off by the lack of a definite location and the odd colloquialisms of the characters. But seasoned readers should find this book a delight.
How does the story end? Does Saaski become Moql again? Is Yanno and Anwara's child that was taken at birth restored to them? Does the town learn to accept Saaski? I'm not saying. Go read The Moorchild yourself!