Maeve, a Celtic demi-goddess, was born upon a magical Isle of Women and passed around a circle of seven midwives to nurse from the breasts of each when she was born. The magical and often erotic adventures of this young "girl hero" (she scorns the word "heroine") are the subject of the first volume of this trilogy, which brings to mind the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, only with a distinctive '70s-feminist sheen.

At times, Cunningham's writing is lyrical, while Maeve is sassy, bright and sexy. At other points, though, the plot bogs down, and the arch style of Cunningham's writing begins to grate. Arguments between her foster mothers, she notes, "had a tendency to coincide with [their] collective PMS. PMS! I hear some of you protesting. But I thought they lived in harmony with nature. Sure they did. But who says nature is always nice?"

Such cute, self-referential asides only get in the way of the larger narrative sweep of the novel, and wake the reader from Cunningham's otherwise transfixing spell.

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