By Rebecca Barnhouse, Random House, 323 pages, $16.99
By GUY D’ASTOLFO
“Peaceweaver,” the recently published second book in Rebecca Barnhouse’s historical-fantasy series aimed at young adult readers, picks up where her first book ended.
But although it’s a companion to “The Coming of the Dragon,” the new novel stands alone. A reader needs no prior knowledge to understand or enjoy it.
Barnhouse is an English professor at Youngstown State University and an expert in medieval literature.
Like all of her books, “Peaceweaver” is rooted in ancient literature — “Beowulf” in this case. Barnhouse creates characters and stories that fit into the framework created by the ancient poem.
The main character in “Peaceweaver” is a teenage girl named Hild, a niece of the king in a northern European kingdom.
“Hild comes in at the end of ‘Coming of the Dragon’,” said Barnhouse. “In ‘Peaceweaver,’ she gets to tell her own story.”
Readers familiar with “Beowulf” will see how the tale fits in. “There are creatures that are based on Grendel and Grendel’s mother [in “Peaceweaver”],” said Barnhouse. “People familiar with ‘Beowulf’ will see the connection.”
In “Peaceweaver,” Hild kills a man who was going to harm her friend. As a result, she is imprisoned and wrestles with the anxiety of knowing she might be put to death.
She is ultimately sent away against her will to become the bride of the king of a neighboring kingdom. It’s on the long horseback journey through woods that she must take control of her destiny.
The subject matter and the historical accuracy gives “Peaceweaver” appeal for readers of all ages.
A draft of the third and final book in the series is already done and is scheduled for a fall 2013 release.
“Fantasy loves trilogies,” said Barnhouse.
With the wild success that certain fantasy series aimed at young adults have had on the big screen — “Harry Potter,” “Twilight” and “The Hunger Games” come to mind — is Barnhouse hoping Hollywood notices her work?
“It would be nice,” she said. “But I’m not holding my breath.”