(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Fire and Hemlock retells the story of two Scottish ballads, "Thomas the Rhymer" and "Tarn Lin." Both focus on a young, handsome man fancied by a powerful queen of a magical elf kingdom. The queen takes the man to her kingdom for a number of years, but he later discovers that the price of his journey is dear. Indeed, his life may be forfeit. The queen of Elfland averts Thomas the Rhymer's death by returning him to his own world and by giving him the gift of soothsaying; yet in several versions of the tale, it is clear that Thomas must later return to Elfland at the queen's summons. Tam Lin is also taken to Elfland by the queen, and only the young woman Janet is able to rescue him from certain death. In Fire and Hemlock, Jones combines elements from both ballads as she tells of the adventures and romance of Thomas Lynn and the young protagonist, Polly, who both must struggle against the evil designs of the beautiful and seemingly omnipotent woman, Laurel Perry Lynn.

(The entire section is 177 words.)