Little Fur goes in search of her friend, Ginger the cat, who has failed to return to the hidden grove they call home. But before she can help her friend, Little Fur must learn about the Mystery of Wolves—a mystic order of wolves who dwell in the high mountains to the east of the city. On an adventure that leads to more than just Ginger, Little Fur aids the animals in a zoo, learns more about her long-gone father and mother, and ultimately risks everything she loves to save the mysterious and dangerous humans who do not even know she exists.
Isobelle Carmody, one of Australia’s most popular fantasy authors, continues to charm readers with Little Fur—a heroine filled with enchantment, determination, and sensitivity.
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Winter brings to the Land a mighty silence. Many beasts and birds fall deeply asleep under its spell, and the air turns thick with dreams.
Those who are wakeful can sense the chaotic power of these long, strange dreams. But only the creatures from the last age of the world know what is to be done with them. As the midwinter night approaches, they journey to one of the secret places where magic remains strong, and they enact the ancient ceremony of the Great Weaving to summon the dreams and weave them into a potent gift for the earth spirit.
Only two kinds of creatures do not attend the midwinter weaving: trolls, who loathe the earth spirit with a deadly passion, and elves, for none survive in this age when magic is grown so thin.
Yet elf blood is not quite gone from the world, for there is one creature in whom it flows: a small elf troll named Little Fur.
Strangest of all the things of the last age she may be, for her father was an elf and her mother a troll. How this came about was not known, for Little Fur had no memory of her parents. She has lived her whole long life in a patch of wilderness that once lay at the heart of a vast forest of singing trees. Seven trees are all that remain, but these seven, known as the Old Ones, are saturated in the power of their fallen brethren. Though they sing no more, these sentinels protect the wilderness and all that dwell within it from the great dark human city that surrounds it. Such is the power of the seven that even those humans who live alongside the wilderness never think of it.
Though it was still weeks away, Little Fur was already preparing for midwinter night with the help of the beasts and birds of the wilderness. The squirrels were so mad with excitement that even their usual scatterbrained usefulness evaporated. The birds who were willing forgot any instruction almost the moment it had been given. But the rabbits were steady as long as boldness was not required. The weasels and stoats were clever and nimble, and several older burrowers were hard at work making different sorts of hollows and nests for the visitors.
One afternoon Little Fur paused from the preparations to tend to a wild rabbit that had gotten her paw crushed by a branch. The wan sun was already setting as she carried the rabbit into a cave whose entrance was partly concealed beneath an icefall. This was where she made and stored her potions and herbs and did much of her winter healing. Little Fur set the rabbit's tiny bones and mended her torn skin. Then she held her firmly as Tillet bandaged the paw. Tillet, a large hare, was Little Fur's most competent and steadfast helper.
"You have been brave," Little Fur whispered very softly, stroking the rabbit and looking around the cave.
The walls had niches of varying sizes that had been made by obliging moles. Many of the spaces were filled with piles of leaves and packets of herbs and powders all carefully made up and labeled. Other niches were heaped with stones, dried roots, tubers and bags of seeds. One large niche held an abandoned beehive. Its honey had been drained into a gourd, but its wax was yet to be scraped out. Field mice slept in a nest in the niche beside the beehive; below, a recovering ermine lay curled asleep. Higher up were nests, several occupied by birds that had hurt their wings before they could fly away for winter.
The cave was warmer at the back because a trickle of hot springwater welled from a split rock and pooled in a natural stone bowl, where it shimmered with a strange blue light. Beside the stone bowl slept a blind tabby cat with three of her kittens. A fourth kitten swaggered in a circle beneath a cluster of bats suspended from a stalactite. Dangling beside the bats were a fat braid of garlic, strings of wild onions and three great, knotty, earth-encrusted roots. Toward the front of the cave, dried leaves and berries dangled from plaited reeds. Along a special shelf were small nut gourds containing Little Fur's more dangerous potions.
Though there were herbs waiting to be steeped and a great clump of spiderweb that needed weaving into bandages, Little Fur felt content. All these tasks could be dealt with after mid-winter night. The one thing she ought to do before then was to make herself another cloak. The last one, sewn from a bit of human cloth, had fallen apart, and although Little Fur did not feel the cold as keenly as humans, she did need the cloak for all the pockets she could sew into it.
She sighed, remembering the gray cloak her elf father had left her. It could make its wearer hard to see and remained light as thistledown no matter what she put in the pockets. But a human had taken it the first time Little Fur had ever gone out into the city. All she had of her parents now was the green stone that had once belonged to her mother, which she wore on a thong about her neck. Little Fur had thought it merely a pretty bauble until she had learned that the stone was also worn by troll royalty.
Her longing to learn more of trolls was another reason that she looked forward to the coming midwinter ceremony. Little Fur had not thought much about her parents before traveling to the troll city of Underth, but that perilous adventure had awakened both her troll blood and a powerful curiosity. It was strange that the newly awakened troll blood was not constantly at war with her elf blood, but it was as if they had agreed that whichever served best would take charge.
"Finished," Tillet said.
Little Fur composed her mind and sang a song to the rabbit's spirit so the wounded paw could heal properly. A swan waiting to have his wings cleaned waddled nearer to listen, and a big beaver with a toothache ceased his restless movements. Once the rabbit was asleep, Little Fur lifted her gently into one of the ground-level niches.