(Maureen) Mollie Hunter (McIlwraith) The Junior Bookshelf - Essay

The Junior Bookshelf

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

What a fine writer Mollie Hunter is! One might think that, with her preoccupation with the Scottish scene, her stories might slip into monotony, but not a bit; she is most resourceful in finding new themes, springing naturally from the conflicts generated between people and their environment.

The Third Eye is largely about a place, Ballinford in West Lothian…. The action is seen through the eyes of Jinty Morrison, youngest of three girls, not the brightest but the most sensitive. Jinty is fey. Her love for her mother is mixed liberally with fear, and Mistress Morrison is certainly a difficult woman, and one with a past. I guessed the secret which made her so horrible to live with quite early in the story—and most readers will do so too—but this does not spoil the pleasure at all. This is not a mystery story but a complex study in character and a study of a community and a family.

Miss Hunter has adopted rather a difficult device for telling her story, mostly in extended flashbacks. Children are familiar with this, especially from their television viewing, and there should be no real problem. I find it impossible to believe that they will not pay the writer the compliment of total surrender to the powerful narrative and the quiet and persistent appeal of the young heroine. It is a strong drama, but there is plenty of fun to accompany the tragedy and to complete the picture of a whole community. How splendidly Miss Hunter rises to her big scenes, the anvil-wedding and the ice-party. A book to savour, to read slowly and then to read again noting how beautifully every episode is dovetailed into the main structure.

"The New Books: 'The Third Eye'," in The Junior Bookshelf, Vol. 43, No. 4, August, 1979, p. 221.