|Not the right kind of mermaid for this book, I know.|
That’s not necessarily a complaint. A rich and detailed background that is also consistent lends the book a pseudo-historical feel and staves off any feeling that the reader knows where the author is going next. It just means that the reader should adopt a more passive attitude of going with the flow. As Gil learns, good things come to those who wait, and this is true for the reader, too. Watching Wright set up the dominoes adds to the anticipation of the coming climax. When he flicks that first domino over, you know that the results will be spectacular.Even Nerea’s explanation of half of Gil’s lineage serves as a set-up. Her admission that she sought out Gil, and they they are cousins draws back the curtains on the background a little more, but somehow still manages to leave most of the stage in shadow. At last, after a number of hints, we learn that Gil a member of an extended family known as the Moths. Collectively, they are part of the Twilight crowd. Not the sparkly vampire Twilight crowd, but the not-quite-human and not-quite-faerie crowd. Within the Twilight population are several families, of which the Moths are the most numerous, just ahead of the Cobweb family.
The symbolism here is obvious. The Moths are drawn to light, the Cobwebs to dark. Several lesser families get name-checked, providing a useful classification schema that is at once more organic and more easily understood than the most obvious comparison, J.K. Rowling’s houses of Hogwart’s.More dominoes are set-up when Nerea agrees to take Gil to observe a tournament between the two most powerful elf kings in the world come Lammas Day. We also learn that Nerea considers Ruff to be a pooka, and that she doesn’t want Gil to mention to Ruff that they had spoken.
It is these moments of doubt by Gil that make him such a sympathetic character. This is a little thing, don’t tell a friend we talked, but as a lie of omission it still leaves Gil with a bad taste in his mouth. It’s hard not to like a character with strong of a sense of honor and loyalty to his friends, even in the little things. Because as all men of honor and loyalty know, if you take care of the little things, the big things will take care of themselves.Of course, even as Wright gives us more reason to like Gil, he also leaves us with another mystery. What is it about Ruff that Nerea finds so troubling?
Looking to the sum of all knowledge, Infogalactic tells us that a pooka is an Irish spirit that brings good and bad fortune. The connotations between dogs and coyotes, and the parallel development between the Irish and the Native American tribes (at least those who considered Coyote to be a trickster God) is interesting, but doesn't really answer the question. For that, we'll just have to remain patient a little longer.