A leprechaun’s life is not all that it’s cracked up to be, at least as Carrie Ann Noble describes it in The Gold-Son. There are no cheerful folk, no sweet pots of gold, no dancing or fun of any sort. Instead, the quest for gold is insatiable, an addiction that drives the leprechauns to countless acts of thievery and deception. Poor Tommin Kelly has been cursed by a powerful leprechaun, Lorcan Reilly, and now he is set on a path to become a leprechaun himself. Try as he might, he can’t seem to turn away from thoughts of gold, even though the “taking” shames him to his core.
Ambitious Lorcan has set his sights on becoming the king of the leprechauns, but he can only do so with the help of his designated gold-sons. Lorcan needs Tommin to undergo training and become a full-fledged leprechaun, for only then could Lorcan take the throne. As he enters the training school, Tommin teams up with Eve, another one of Lorcan’s gold-sons (even though she’s female), and Copper, a faerie servant. The three concoct a plan to stop Lorcan before the induction ceremony takes place. Little do they know, this plan will take hundreds of years and will span continents before it comes to fruition.
Gerard Doyle brings a classic fairy tale vibe to this unusual young adult fantasy. Doyle is a well-known and respected narrator who has received many accolades for his work. He is a great choice to narrate this audio, as his Irish accent imbues the story with exactly the right mood. The story itself is a bit rough, but Doyle smooths out the edges with his warm tone and rounded vowels, creating a magical atmosphere that is spellbinding in its own right.
Despite its many strengths, some aspects of The Gold-Son may give Odyssey Award Committee members pause. Doyle’s Irish accent is a perfect fit when describing the land of the leprechauns, but when the story moves to the United States, that full-bodied sense of magic and wonder is lost. American accents are serviceable, but not evocative, and at times, they’re even a little odd. The relationship between Eve and Tommin never seems fully developed, creating a sense of detachment that detracts from the momentum of the story. To be fair, it’s true that these issues may stem from the story itself, which is somewhat choppy and unevenly paced. Even so, some listeners may have trouble becoming fully invested in the story and may find their attention wandering as a result. This lack of investment could be a concern, since an important Odyssey criterion is maintaining and stimulating listeners’ interests.
Despite a few missteps, The Gold-Son is an undeniably well-crafted audiobook that the whole family can enjoy. Gerard Doyle’s timeless narration is a pleasure to hear, and the sense of place that he creates with his voice is remarkable.
The Gold-Son, by Carrie Ann Noble, read by Gerard Doyle. 8 hours, 42 minutes. Brilliance Audio, 2017.