“The Púca,” by Terri Squires

May 22, 2018

I received “The Púca,” by Terri Squires, as part of a GoodReads give away. It’s a book that has… many issues, most of which could have been resolved with editors– both for content as well as copy editing.

“The Púca” follows Mairin and Josh, orphaned twins adopted by their aunt and uncle who live in steamy Florida. They are both excellent swimers, 13 years old, excited about going into 8th grade. The school year ends a bit rockily when Mairin, who has a short temper, instigates a fight with the school bully. Although he has a more even temper, Josh has ADHD and poor impulse control which leads to another bit of excitement: a swimming race in the ocean that goes awry. It’s at that moment that Mairin discovers she can turn into an animal.

The two are excited by this, of course, and decide she’s a Púca, which doesn’t really make sense because Púcas are a mythical creature that is a fairly demonic horse that likes to torment dudes that falling-down drunk. As mythical characters to pick it seems kind of random. Anyway, they decide to go about their summer as usual, after first telling their best friends but not their parents. They, of course, have more adventures that involve shape shifting.

As far as I can tell the book, published in 2017, is set in present times. And yet one of the teens is eager to order a pizza BY TELEPHONE, not by an app or web site. Is that… a thing? Are teens, unlike people in their 20s and 30s, big fans of phone calls? Mairin has a camera that she uses to take photos and video instead of using her cell phone which also strikes me as odd. The kids are really helpful and quick to hug their parents which… I remember being 13. I remember my friends at 13. These kids seem kind of… too good.

“The Púca” reads a bit more like a middle grade book than young adult and has some exciting bits in it, but is overall negatively affected by lack of editing. It’s a shame that the author didn’t have another set of (professional) eyes going over this book because the actual story, which seems like a prelude to weightier book, isn’t BAD. However, it reads like a rough draft by someone who isn’t very experienced with writing, with reading much, or with how humans behave and talk. There’s also issues with punctuation, making it sometimes hard to tell who’s talking or when they switch from inner monologue to spoken conversation, and at one point someone identified only as “a woman” helps them out of a jam. The next page “the woman” is their mom. Wouldn’t they have recognized her? She isn’t identified as their mom until they get home.

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