The Silver Bough
by Lisa Tuttle
Cover Artist: John Taylor Dismukes
Review by Carolyn Frank
Spectra Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 0553382977
Date: 25 April, 2006 List Price $22.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
The feel of a small fishing village attempting to stay alive through minor league tourism is clearly conveyed, although the language used is equally American. The town could be located anywhere on a coast in Northern Europe or North America, very little, except the inhabitants' names, is intrinsically Scottish. What does appear innately Celtic is the thin line between reality and magic. This fine line seemingly can be broached during any time of disruption or even just periodically like Brigadoon. And the means for crossing the line can be as simple as merely knowing the line is there.
The dying modern town, Appleton, is firmly tied to its mythological underpinnings. The locals know their history, which is closely linked with apples. And apples are deeply embedded into Northern European myth, magic and folklore, as discussed in the original Silver Bough: Volume 1: Scottish Folklore and Folk Belief by F. Marian McNeill (Glasgow, 1957). Lisa Tuttle weaves much of this research into her fantasy, although appropriating the title of the research text (which is still in print) seems rather arrogant to me.
An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but embedding yourself in this apple-laden tale will certainly bring your mental health to a pleasure plateau. Romantic, intriguing and magical, and without a single battle of any kind, this fantasy is an enjoyable read.