(Maureen) Mollie Hunter (McIlwraith) Introduction - Essay

Introduction

(Maureen) Mollie Hunter (McIlwraith) 1922–

Scottish novelist for young adults and younger children, playwright, and nonfiction writer.

Hunter is best known for her fantasies, historical novels, realistic fiction, thrillers, and mysteries. Her highly textured prose is often a synthesis of Scottish legend, Celtic myth, and realistic detail. A thoroughly Scottish literary voice, she has successfully captured the imagistic, poetic nature of the oral tradition of the Scottish Highlands. Hunter's knowledge of her country's history and folklore and a deep love for her native land are evident in much of her work. Her philosophy is humanistic, with a great faith in the potential and strength of individuals. The power of love and loyalty and the struggle of good against evil are among her major themes.

The Bodach, published in the United States as The Walking Stones: A Story of Suspense, is an example of Hunter's ability to combine myth and realism in her fiction. Here the author presents an ancient legend and the superstitions of an old man in conflict with modern technology. In addition to being an exciting story, it is a dramatic portrait of spiritual and moral conflict in the mind of its protagonist. A Sound of Chariots illustrates the versatility of Hunter's talent. Classified as modern realistic fiction, the novel explores the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of a young girl growing up in a colony of war veterans. Critics almost unanimously praised the book as a sensitive and powerful portrait of a young adult's coming of age under unusual circumstances. Hunter's views on writing for young adults can be found in Talent Is Not Enough, a collection of essays. Many critics and experts feel that these essays, like much of Hunter's other work, are astute, graceful, and thought-provoking.

Critical opinion of Hunter's work is overwhelmingly positive; she is at this time one of the most highly respected authors of books for young adults. While some of her work is considered too sophisticated for the average young reader, her popularity with diverse segments of this audience suggests that many young people enjoy the challenge, depth of insight, and feeling in Hunter's work. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 29-32, rev. ed., and Something About the Author, Vol. 2.)