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Last Updated on May 11, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 481

Yolen has made the use of folktales and legends her specialty. She believes that folklore is not the exclusive property of its country of origin, but should be available to storytellers everywhere. Accordingly, she feels free to take whatever she needs from any source if it fits a given story....

(The entire section contains 481 words.)

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Yolen has made the use of folktales and legends her specialty. She believes that folklore is not the exclusive property of its country of origin, but should be available to storytellers everywhere. Accordingly, she feels free to take whatever she needs from any source if it fits a given story. She calls herself an "empress of thieves," but argues that we instinctively use what is at hand for our view of reality. Yolen pulls "threads from magic tapestries to weave my own new cloth," because gifted writers can, in her words, "reinvigorate the literature with cross-cultural fertilization." The Wild Hunt is an example of this process. In this novel, Yolen has produced an amalgam of a medieval Scandinavian legend, the Hunt itself, a myth of changing seasons, and a rite-of-passage adventure for a young boy. To these are added the magical properties of rowan trees, a naming of names ceremony, talking animals, and an owl that gives the Hunt its signal to start. Jerold, the Queen of Light's chosen hero, lives in the ordinary world in a gothic mansion. A parallel world exists in the same house, and Jerold, in his new suit of armor, ventures into that world, passing through a subterranean region on his way to confront the Lord of Dark. Every child must learn to face his or her worst fears and triumph over them. Many children fear darkness and wild storms. The world we know is simultaneously very beautiful and very terrible, and Jerold emerges from his trial, having rescued his counterpart, Gerund. He leaves with his new friend and a new assurance. Yolen points out that beneath every piece of fantasy literature is the world and society of the storyteller who has written the fantasy. Fantasy literature is "one step removed" from realistic fiction, but it provides an angle of vision that may help its reader come to terms with the real world by seeing it imaginatively.

Despite the objections of some critics that The Wild Hunt may be too subtle for its target audience of eight- to twelve-year olds, it would be a mistake to underestimate the ability of that age group to respond to this book. The Wild Hunt is a carefully written fantasy that will stimulate the imaginations of its readers. It might also lead readers to do their own research on the legendary figures presented: The Wild Hunt, its leader, the White Goddess, and the Moss Man. The book presents a dark world, but it has elements of humor—the dog Mully and the cat, for example, who are on one level the animals they appear to be, on another level much more. If the book is more difficult than many of its type, it rewards the patient reader with insights into the kind of imagination that expresses itself in myths and legends. Francisco Mora's illustrations will also assist in this process.

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