Very few books have the Tolkienesque ability to transport you into an urgent and present magical moment, but storyteller Michael Harvey’s debut novel Pig Boy definitely does. Retelling the story of Culhwch and Olwen – the longest tale in the Mabinogi and one of the earliest Arthurian legends – Harvey offers a new way to Welsh mythology to young adult readers.
A unique voice in writing, Harvey’s oral storytelling comes through in his prose, making vast feasts, magical acts and enormous giants come alive as you read. He’s able to make moments urgent without telling you they’re urgent, and allow the reader to feel as if they too are taking part in an epic quest.
Not all things need explaining and great levels of detail in an oral retelling – this is also the approach Harvey takes in the novel, and it may be a little different than some readers are used to. Once you learn to accept and enjoy, however, this ceases to be a problem. Imbued with magic and folklore, Pig Boy is a welcome addition to the Welsh literary canon and offers something we very much need in Wales: a way to have fun with our history and heritage.
Pig Boy, Michael Harvey (Cinnamon Press)
Price: £11.99. Info: here
words HARI BERROW