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Petal on a Black Bough

2007, Airleaf Publishing

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ISBN: 1600023223

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Petal on a Black Bough

by Richard Shain Cohen

A rare and unusual blend of American family bonds and conflicts tested by wartime with an ancient Celtic legend; a touching story presented in a unique manner

Petal on a Black Bough could be classified as a historical fantasy. A fusion of near-memoir, fiction and Celtic mythology, it represents a unique kind of story-telling for an American writer.

This book presents the reality of World War I to the start of World War II, a period that includes the Irish struggle for independence. The mythological warrior-goddess Medb (Maeve) known for sorcery, licentiousness, and affinity for war, emerges from the past to seek warriors who will help with Ireland’s independence. Her powers also enable her to shape shift, change ages, and migrate through space and time....

We meet Philip, a soldier in a French hospital for the wounded; Medb's heir, Maeve Dwyer, to whom Medb has given her spirit; Maeve’s artist lover Matthew; her father Patrick, who smuggles guns to the Irish...

The irony of the conversion from Medb to Maeve Dwyer affirms the futility of war and the necessity of love and peace.


review

In a form little used by novelists except for the most imaginative, here is a fascinating fusion of Celtic mythology with reality, reliving World War I to the start of World War II, a period that includes the Irish struggle for independence. The mythological warrior-goddess Medb mingles with other vivid characters from this critical period in world history to affirm the futility of war.... but in the telling, adolescents such as we were or knew mature suddenly as their hunger for love, independence, truth and fulfillment are tested sorely under the guns of war. As in all well-wrought epics, minute conflicts mirror global ones and relationships reveal mankind's shifting commitments to ethics and morality.