Eilís Dillon Virginia Haviland - Essay

Virginia Haviland

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

In her third highly successful book for young people to be published in this country [The House on the Shore], Mrs. Dillon weaves a timeless tale of mystery in an Irish coastal village near the Aran Islands. Her young heroes, Jim and Roddy, with the courage and enterprise necessary for apprehending villains, overtake their elders in a danger-filled search to get the villagers' stolen money back from Jim's hated uncle…. [They commit] errors that make the boys the more convincing and their story more and more full of suspense. Every detail in description and speech counts, to give exactness and flavor to a book that both boys and girls will find absorbing. (pp. 262-63)

Virginia Haviland, "Summer Booklist: 'The House on the Shore'," in The Horn Book Magazine (copyrighted, 1956, by The Horn Book, Inc., Boston), Vol. XXXII, No. 4, August, 1956, pp. 262-63.

[Pat and Danny] lived in the village of Garavin on the island of Inishrone. Three miles off the coast of Connemara on Galway Bay was the Island of Horses….

The boys decided to go out there in their sturdy pookaun. The first visit was exciting enough…. The consequences were appalling…. The final scene of the mystery is splendid, the sudden savage attack of the black stallion and Pat's plucky grandmother, who has insisted on seeing the island once again, brought face to face with the enemy.

["The Island of Horses"] is more closely knit, more believable and more exciting than the excellent "House on the Shore," with a vivid sense of the place and the people. It is superior fare for adventure-loving boys and girls. A good story, beautifully told.

"Thrilling Sea Adventures for Older Boys," in New York Herald Tribune Book Review (© I.H.T. Corporation; reprinted by permission), Vol. 34, No. 15, November 17, 1957, p. 12.