Adventures in Reading

Wise Child by Monica Furlong (1987)
February 4, 2008, 4:32 pm
Filed under: book reviews, fiction

Resulting from my hunger junk food science fiction and fantasy I splurged at the library’s for sale table and picked up a handful of mass markets at random. After arriving home and upon reading the summaries two of the books immediately went onto my junk pile, but one of the books that made it was Monica Furlong’s Wise Child.

Wise Child occurs in Scotland of the 13th to 17th centuries [1] and after our heroine’s grandmother passes, Wise Child finds herself living with the local doran or witch Juniper. Much of the novel focuses on Wise Child and Juniper’s relationship, but the latter half of the novel is punctuated with the arrival of Wise Child’s biological mother Maeve and the village priest accusing Juniper of witchcraft. Furlong does not shy away to touch on themes parental abuse, poverty, and religion.

After some conversations with friends and perusing the back cover of fantasy novels, I am now less impressed with the ruckus resulting from the film adaptation of Philip Pullman’s Golden Compass. Furlong’s Wise Child (also a young adult novel) has quite the damning criticism directed at Catholicism and I recently recalled my favorite fantasy author Terry Pratchett’s Small Gods. It seems that in the realm of fantasy literature that there is quite an interesting relationship with religion.

The one aspect I struggled with in Wise Child is Furlong’s rather jerky writing style. The majority of sentences are statements and much of these are fairly simple statements. Despite this, Furlong still manages to develop two particularly rich characters with Juniper and Wise Child.

[1] I am terrible at dating without a specific reference (i.e. the Battle of Waterloo) and this is quite the stab in the dark.


I love the Juniper books by Furlong! I haven’t read them since I was sooooo little, but I remember loving them and the name Juniper sticks in my head to this day. Such a pretty word :)

Comment by Kristina

Kristina: I am glad to find another fan and to hear that Furlong did continue in her series. I definitely have added Furlong to my must read more of list.

Comment by bookchronicle

[…] is the prequel to Monica Furlong’s book Wise Child and tells the story of Juniper, Wise Child’s mentor and local doran (or witch/shaman/healer), […]

Pingback by Fiction: Juniper by Monica Furlong « Adventures in Reading

[…] Monica Furlong’s trilogy, Colman continues the story of Wise Child through the eyes of Colman, Wise Child’s cousin. Upon returning to Juniper’s homeland, […]

Pingback by Fiction: Colman by Monica Furlong « Adventures in Reading

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