What the Reviewers are Saying About the Magpie Odyssey Series:
Reviewed By CHRIS RUBICH
Mystery and magic return in “Magpie Spirits” by Helena, Mont., author Lorretta Lynde.
The sixth book in the Magpie Odyssey series pulls readers into a world where ancient Irish magic blends with that of the Crow Indian tribe in a battle against modern evil.
Tribal members Clink Black Weasel and John Gray Dog escape a halfway house and head for the reservation in search of a disabled healer, Ursula Broken Bird. Black Weasel thinks that she’s his half-sister and hopes to enrich himself off the cures that she freely provides to others.
The wicked plan means danger for 20-year-old Aisling Lorrah as she returns to her family’s land in the Big Horn Mountains for the summer before her senior year at the University of Montana.
Aisling has spent summers learning how to survive in the mountains along with lessons in her Irish heritage and Crow beliefs. Her family’s roots are steeped in the Irish unity with nature and Christianity, while she also has been tutored by Crow medicine man Thomas Sky Horse.
“She now lived a double life when she was at college, knowing her friends would not believe or accept the truth about life among the Lorrahs.”
But Aisling finds herself without her grandparents and great-uncles and great-aunts, whom she had planned to visit in the Big Horns. Worried about the fate of her elders, she knows that she must survive on her skills in tracking, hiding, identifying plants, listening for danger and more.
Breaking her loneliness and concern, Sky Horse appears to present her with a stunning horse and teach her how to gentle and ride the sensitive creature. Lynde’s own love of horses is evident as Aisling builds a strong bond with the graceful, yet playful animal.
One ride along a mountain ridge leaves Aisling with a sense of vertigo:
“Everything looked the same, but something was distinctly different. It was the aroma of a fire…not wood smoke, but a different smell. The only time she could recall such an aroma, it was peat smoke from a fire in a Travellers’ camp when she was in Ireland.”
The sense of being transported to a twin place passes, but only after she gets advice from a character that she met in Ireland in the past.
Soon the distraction of working with the horse in the Big Horns isn’t enough to counter Aisling’s growing concern about her relatives, especially since she knows about the halfway-house escapees.
When her great-uncle Andrew sends her a message, Aisling is relieved, but afraid of what lies ahead.
Aisling learns that the elders are looking for Ursula, the gentle healer, and her aged adopted mother Josephine, who have gone missing. And Aisling tells her relatives about the escapees and that threat to the Crow women.
As the Lorrahs navigate hidden rock crevices, steep trails and danger from the escapees and an even-deadlier criminal, the magical talents of each is tested as the family tries to save itself, Ursula and Josephine.
The book reads like a crime novel at points, with plenty of quick action, but never loses what makes it unique – the mysticism that envelopes the reader.
Magic pulses throughout the book, from Aisling’s learning to transport herself to the magpies, kestrel and other spirit animals that guide the Lorrahs.
Lynde’s respect for the traditions of the Irish and Crow helps build the audience’s own appreciation for the differences and abilities of others and their beliefs. The author blends in a Vietnam veteran who has wisdom to pass along to Aisling and solid comic relief in the form of two outrageous New Age hippies on their own spiritual journey in search of a place for a vision quest.
The result is another intriguing story of acceptance of others and openness to our own skills and nature, a tale to transport the reader much as it does its lead character.
"In Willow, the elusive character who reveals herself to Aisling in stages as the tale unfolds, readers meet a character who is entirely her own person. Willow is not restricted by society’s norms, nor is she afraid of difficult decisions. Her magic is powerful enough to reach Aisling and offer her power that she can only begin to understand.
Her spiritual journey serves to strengthen both her courage and confidence in her own abilities. The dangerous climax which threatens her life calls on love, magic and facing her fears.
Readers of Lynde’s books have been drawn to her natural ability to weave fact and fantasy together in believable ways. In this newest book, her understanding of the ranch and tribal ways of life enrich her descriptions. Add to that an element of Irish magic, and you have an adventure that offers much to the reader." -- Irish Gazette -- Alana Listoe, Reviewer
The newest review from The Billings Gazette!
And from the Montana Senior News!
The Magpie Odyssey
"The Magpie Odyssey is a bold first book ... I found the comparisons between the early Irish and American Indian customs compelling --
an interesting mystery with many truths to tell about Irish History, violence, spirituality and ancient celebrations."
Mary McFarland, Irish Gazette
"Lorretta Lynde draws on her family's history and knowledge of American Indian and Irish cultures in Mountain Medicine."
The descriptions of the topography, as well as tidbits like the main character's use of a 1963 Willys Jeep to access the line shack, ring true for Montanans."-- Eve Byron, Helena (MT) Independent Record
"A rich appreciation of Old World and New World cultures weaves through 'Magpie Genesis' ...
Lynde's knowledge of both Crow and Irish beliefs is evident throughout the writing, and both receive great respect.
It's easy to immerse yourself in the magic of the book and Lynde's writing." -- Chris Rubich, Billings (MT)Gazette