The Other Of One is the first part of a new fantasy series from Irish debut author Brian G. Burke suitable for middle grade / early teens upwards. Set in Ireland, it tells the story of a young boy William Muldoon who finds himself unwittingly transported to a magical underground world, populated by all manner of strange and wonderful creatures called the Dwelvin Mites. He soon learns that his presence there is no coincidence and that he has been chosen to help them fight against an evil supernatural tyrant the Pooka, Drevol Briggun, a Wrythunn warrior who has driven them underground away from their beautiful home Lythiann.
William discovers that he is a reincarnation of the only other remaining Wrythunn, Mysun Margle and must find some way of channelling his powers and defeating Briggun or not only the Dwelvin Mites, but all those he loves will be destroyed.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this story. Irish folklore tends to be a bit one-sided and tired, but Burke has done something wonderful here. The world he has created is a fantastic blend of traditional Irish folklore mixed with that of other cultures and those of his own imagination, populated by a veritable smorgasbord of magical and wondrous creatures. The landscapes are richly textured and intricately described, often beautiful, often dangerous, always wondrous. The sheer scale of the world the author has created is remarkable and it’s a fitting playground for the saga that quickly unfolds.
What makes The Other Of One all the more enjoyable are the characters introduced to William as he makes his life-changing journey. I’ll admit I cringed a little when a leprechaun made an appearance, but Burke does a great job of making even a tired Irish stereotype fresh and funny and as the tale progresses, each new character becomes as entertaining as the last. The dialogue is snappy and fun, serious when needed and poignant when least expected. Friendships are formed, loyalties tested and bravery is found in the most unlikely of places as William and his friends face all manner of peril on their quest.
The writing is impressive for a debut author, hugely imaginative, drawing from obvious sources like Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, J.K. Rowling and Lewis Carroll and while it may follow some of the conventions of the genre, it rapidly develops its own voice. Burke is clearly comfortable in the world he has crafted and portrays a confidence rarely seen in someone developing a narrative this ambitious. The pace rarely falters and builds nicely to the introduction of book two, which teases some epic events.
Currently available at only 99c/ £0.77p from Amazon, if mythical fantasy with a modern attitude is your bag, this book is an absolute steal. My only complaint is that it’s worth ten times that.