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Reviewed by Kimberlee J Benart for Readers' Favorite
The Legend of Lutey and the Merbeing by J.R. McRae, with illustrations by Stefania Saccarola, is a religious-themed children’s story set in the village of Zennor on the dramatic northern coast of Cornwall. Loosely based on a Cornish folktale, it tells the story of a young man named Matthew Trewella, who was called “Lutey” because his voice was so sweet. Lutey sang every evening in the village church. One evening, a sea demon hears Lutey’s voice and tells his master, “the one who controls the powers of the air,” how beautiful it is; more beautiful than any voice the master could command. The master tells the sea demon to kill the young man. And so, the struggle begins, as the sea demon attempts to lure Lutey to his death. The unfolding plot is accompanied by full-color illustrations.
The Legend of Lutey and the Merbeing is a suspenseful tale about the struggle between good and evil. Until the very end of the story, we aren’t quite sure which side will win. Some younger children may find portions of the story frightening, such as Lutey’s dream about nearly drowning, or the demon’s attempts to kill him. These are offset by the help of good people in the village and friendly dolphins in the sea, as well as the spiritual strength and power that comes from songs from hymnals and the Bible. McRae’s narrative is flowing and lyrical, while Saccarola’s illustrations evoke the emotions and drama of the narrative. This is an exciting and engaging tale which also offers an opportunity for thought and discussion between parents and their children. Highly recommended.