It's been a fruitful week for charity shop book finds, one of which was 'Dream Angus'. I went to Oxfam with the strict intention of only getting rid of things, not of buying anything new, but I ended up waiting for new gift aid tickets and the inevitable happened.
McCall Smiths books are the sort of cosy that doesn't particularly appeal to me so I didn't have much interest in this when it came out, and I think this might also have been true of its original owner. It had a Waterstones 3 for 2 sticker on the cover, but had quite obviously never been read, which makes me think it must have been that third book you end up choosing out of a mounting sense of desperation.
As I'm reading through a few of the Canongate myths at the moment though it seemed better to keep an open mind and give it a chance. I'm pleased I did, and kind of sorry for the unknown person who never got round to reading it. It's a short book so wouldn't have taken much of their time, and is a great example of what I like so much about this series.
In this case I was utterly unfamiliar with the story, I know very little about Celtic mythology at all, and next to nothing about it's gods. Angus is a god of love, youth, and beauty with the power to bestow dreams. In this telling his tale unfolds interspersed with fragmentary stories of other people and places that contain traces of him.
In the way of dreams, and myths, they can end abruptly without conclusion, or a clear idea of what's real, or otherwise, but all the time there are parallels with the central story and the eventual end of both strands seems more hopeful than not.
It's also a book that's a testament to McCall Smiths skill as a storyteller in the true Scheherazade tradition - I kept wanting just a bit more, hooked in almost despite myself. That's also what's so very good about this series. I suppose each book is more or less typical of its author but because the subject matter comes with such a long tradition behind it there's the chance to see both in a fresh light.