Brennan, Herbie 1940- (J.H. Brennan, James Herbert Brennan, Jan Brennan, Maria Palmer, Cornelius Rumstuckle)
Brennan, Herbie 1940- (J.H. Brennan, James Herbert Brennan, Jan Brennan, Maria Palmer, Cornelius Rumstuckle)
Born July 5, 1940, in County Down, Northern Ireland; son of James (a grocer) and Sarah Jane (a grocer) Brennan; married Helen McMaster, March 28, 1961 (divorced, 1991); married Jacquie Burgess (a psychotherapist, artist, and author), 1993; children: (first marriage) Aynia, Sian. Education: Exeter University, graduate study (Western esotericism), c. 2007. Hobbies and other interests: Studying esotericism, psychology, prehistory, history, and philosophy; doing psychical research; watching movies and television.
Home—Republic of Ireland. Agent—Sophie Hicks, Ed Victor, Ltd., 6, Bayley St., Bedford Sq., London WC1B 3HE, England. E-mail—[email protected]
Writer and lecturer. Full-time author, beginning 1973. Worked variously as a journalist, newspaper and magazine editor, a hypnotherapist, a counselor, a marketer, and as the director of advertising and public-relations firms. Facilitator of seminars on topics including spiritual development, psychical research, dream work, subnuclear physics, magical training, the astral plane, healing, and reincarnation.
Society for Psychical Research.
(Under name J.H. Brennan) Marcus Mustard, Bantam (London, England), 1994.
(Under name J.H. Brennan) The Mystery Machine, Margaret McElderry Books (New York, NY), 1995.
(Under name J.H. Brennan) Blood Brothers, Poolbeg (Dublin, Ireland), 1996.
Bad Manners Day, Macdonald (Hemel Hampstead, England), 1996.
Dorothy's Ghost, illustrated by Marie Corner, Heinemann (London, England), 1996.
Little House, illustrated by Stephen Lewis, Macdonald (Hemel Hampstead, England), 1996.
The Thing from Knucker Hole, illustrated by Alex de Wolf, Hippo (London, England), 1996.
Mario Scumbini and the Big Pig Swipe, illustrated by David Simonds, Hamish Hamilton (London, England), 1996.
Kookabura Dreaming, illustrated by Phillip Reeve, Scholastic (London, England), 1997.
Letters from a Mouse, illustrated by Louise Voce, Walker Books (London, England), 1997.
Jennet's Tale: A Story about the Great Plague, Mammoth (London, England), 2000.
Final Victory, A. & C. Black (London, England), 2000.
Zartog's Remote, illustrated by Neil Layton, Bloomsbury (London, England), 2000, Carolrhoda Books (Minneapolis, MN), 2001.
Fairy Nuff: A Tale of Bluebell Wood, illustrated by Ross Collins, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2001.
Nuff Said: The New Bluebell Wood Adventure (sequel to Fairy Nuff), illustrated by Ross Collins, Bloomsbury (London, England), 2002, published as Nuff Said: Another Tale of Bluebell Wood, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2002.
Frankenstella and the Video Shop Monster, illustrated by Cathy Gale, Bloomsbury (London, England), 2002, published as Frankenstella and the Video Store Monster, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2002.
Emily and the Werewolf, illustrated by David Pace, Margaret McElderry Books (New York, NY), 2003.
(Under name Cornelius Rumstuckle) The Book of Wizardry: The Apprentice's Guide to the Secrets of the Wizard's Guild, Llewellyn (St. Paul, MN), 2003.
"BARMY JEFFERS" SERIES; UNDER NAME J.H. BRENNAN
Barmy Jeffers and the Quasimodo Walk, Armada (London, England), 1988.
Return of Barmy Jeffers and the Quasimodo Walk, illustrated by David Cobley, Armada (London, England), 1988.
Barmy Jeffers and the Shrinking Potion, Armada (London, England), 1989.
"ADVENTURE OF THE ICE AGE" NOVEL SERIES; UNDER NAME J.H. BRENNAN
Shiva, Collins (London, England), 1989, Lippincott (Philadelphia, PA), 1990.
The Crone, Collins (London, England), 1990, published as Shiva Accused, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1991.
Ordeal by Poison, Collins (London, England), 1992, published as Shiva's Challenge, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1992.
"HORRORSCOPE" NOVEL SERIES
(Under name Maria Palmer) Capricorn's Children, Mammoth (London, England), 1995.
(Under name J.H. Brennan) Cancer: The Black Death, Mammoth (London, England), 1995.
(Under name J.H. Brennan) The Gravediggers, Mammoth (London, England), 1996.
"EDDIE THE DUCK" SERIES
Eddie the Duck, illustrated by Ann Kronheimer, Puffin (London, England), 1998.
Eddie and the Bad Egg, illustrated by Ann Kronheimer, Puffin (London, England), 1998.
Eddie and the Dirty Dogs, illustrated by Ann Kronheimer, Puffin (London, England), 2001.
"FAERIE WARS CHRONICLES"
Faerie Wars, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2003.
The Purple Emperor, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2004.
Ruler of the Realm, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2006.
Faerie Lord, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2007.
(Under name J.H. Brennan) Mindpower 1: Succeed at School, Armada (London, England), 1990.
(Under name J.H. Brennan) Mindpower 2: Make Yourself a Success, Armada (London, England), 1990.
(Under name J.H. Brennan) The Young Ghost Hunter's Guide, Armada (London, England), 1990.
Memory, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1997.
Seriously Weird True Stories, illustrated by David Wyatt, Scholastic (London, England), 1997.
Seriously Weird True Stories 2, Scholastic (London, England), 1998.
Alien Contact, Scholastic (London, England), 1998.
The Internet, Scholastic (London, England), 1998.
Techno-Future, illustrated by Jeff Anderson, Puffin (London, England), 2000.
Space Quest: 111 Peculiar Questions Answered, Faber & Faber (London, England), 2003.
A Spy's Handbook, Faber & Faber (London, England), 2003.
(Editor) The Ghosthunter's Handbook, Faber & Faber (London, England), 2004.
The Alien's Handbook, Faber & Faber (London, England), 2005.
The Codebreaker's Handbook, Faber & Faber (London, England), 2006.
The Wizard's Apprentice: Your Secret Path to Making Magic, Faber Children's (London, England), 2007.
"FORBIDDEN TRUTHS" CHILDREN'S NONFICTION SERIES
Atlantis and Other Lost Civilizations, Faber Children's (London, England), 2006.
The Secret Powers of the Mind, Faber Children's (London, England), 2006.
Time Travel, Faber Children's (London, England), 2007.
Parallel Worlds, Faber Children's (London, England), 2007.
EDUCATIONAL BOOKS; FOR CHILDREN
The Death of the Dinosaurs, illustrated by Chris Brown and others, Pearson Education (Harlow, England), 2001.
Dr. Jenner and the Cow Pox, illustrated by Andrew Quelch and James Sneddon, Pearson Education (Harlow, England), 2001.
How to Remember Absolutely Everything, illustrated by Barbara Vagnozzi, Pearson Education (Harlow, England), 2001.
Leonardo da Vinci: The Greatest Genius Who Ever Lived?, illustrated by Lee Montgomery, Pearsons Education (Harlow, England), 2001.
Why Do Cats Purr?, Pearson Education (Harlow, England), 2001.
"SAGAS OF THE DEMONSPAWN" SERIES; FANTASY GAME BOOKS; UNDER NAME J.H. BRENNAN
Demonspawn, Fontana (London, England), 1984.
Fire Wolf, Fontana (London, England), 1984.
The Crypts of Terror, Fontana (London, England), 1984.
Demonstration, illustrated by John Blanche, Fontana (London, England), 1984.
Ancient Evil, illustrated by John Blanche, Fontana (London, England), 1985.
Demondoom, Fontana (London, England), 1985.
"GRAILQUEST" SERIES; FANTASY GAME BOOKS; UNDER NAME J.H. BRENNAN
The Castle of Darkness, illustrated by John Higgins, Armada (London, England), 1984.
The Den of Dragons, illustrated by John Higgins, Armada (London, England), 1984.
The Gateway of Doom, illustrated by John Higgins, Armada (London, England), 1984.
Voyage of Terror, illustrated by John Higgins, Armada (London, England), 1985.
Kingdom of Horror, illustrated by John Higgins, Armada (London, England), 1985.
Realm of Chaos, illustrated by John Higgins, Armada (London, England), 1986.
Tomb of Nightmares, illustrated by John Higgins, Armada (London, England), 1986.
Legion of the Dead, illustrated by John Higgins, Armada (London, England), 1987.
FANTASY GAME BOOKS
(Under name J.H. Brennan) The Curse of Frankenstein, illustrated by Tim Sell, Armada (London, England), 1986.
(Under name J.H. Brennan) Dracula's Castle, Armada (London, England), 1986.
(Under name J.H. Brennan) Monster Horrorshow, Armada (London, England), 1987.
Aztec Quest, Kingfisher Books (London, England), 1997.
Egyptian Quest, Kingfisher Books (London, England), 1997.
(Under name J.H. Brennan) The Greythorn Woman, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1979.
(Under name J.H. Brennan) Dark Moon, Michael Joseph (London, England), 1980, Holt (New York, NY), 1981.
(Under name Jan Brennan) Dream of Destiny, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1980.
ADULT NONFICTION; UNDER NAME J.H. BRENNAN
Discover Astral Projection: How to Achieve Out-of-Body Experiences, Collins (London, England), 1970, published as The Astral Projection Workbook, Aquarian/ Thorsons (Hammersmith, England), 1989.
Astral Doorways, Aquarian Press (Wellingborough, England), 1971, 2nd revised edition, Magis Books (Leicestershire, England), 1991.
Five Keys to Past Lives, Aquarian Press (Wellingborough, England), 1971, revised edition as Reincarnation: Five Keys to Past Lives, Aquarian Press (Wellingborough, England), 1981.
Experimental Magic, illustrated by Helen Brennan and Brendan P. Carey, Aquarian Press (Wellingborough, England), 1972.
The Occult Reich, Futura Publications (London, England), 1974.
Beyond the Fourth Dimension, Futura Publications (London, England), 1975.
An Occult History of the World, Volume One, Futura Publications (London, England), 1976.
Power Play, Sphere (London, England), 1977.
Getting What You Want: Power Play Techniques for Achieving Success, Stein & Day (New York, NY), 1977, revised edition as How to Get Where You Want to Go, Thorsons (Wellingborough, England), 1991.
The Good Con Guide (humor), Sphere (London, England), 1978.
Mindreach, Aquarian Press (Wellingborough, England), 1985.
Getting Rich: A Beginner's Manual, Thorsons (Wellingborough, England), 1988.
The Reincarnation Workbook: A Complete Course in Recalling Past Lives, Aquarian (Wellingborough, England), 1989.
(With Eileen Campbell) Aquarian Guide to the New Age, Aquarian (Wellingborough, England), 1990, revised as Dictionary of Mind, Body, and Spirit: Ideas, People, and Places, C.F. Tuttle (Boston, MA), 1994.
Nostradamus: Visions of the Future, Aquarian/Thorsons (London, England), 1992.
Discover Reincarnation, Aquarian/Thorsons (London, England), 1992, published as Discover Your Past Lives: A Practical Course, Sterling Publications (New York, NY), 1994.
A Guide to Megalithic Ireland, Aquarian/Thorsons (London, England), 1994.
Ancient Spirit, Warner (New York, NY), 1995.
Time Travel: A New Perspective, Llewellyn (St. Paul, MN), 1997.
(As Herbie Brennan) Martian Genesis: The Extraterrestrial Origins of the Human Race, Piatkus Books (London, England), 1998, Dell (New York, NY), 2000.
Magick for Beginners: The Power to Change Your World, Llewellyn (St. Paul, MN), 1998.
(As Herbie Brennan) The Little Book of Nostradamus: Prophecies for the 21st Century, Thorsons (London, England), 1999.
The Atlantis Enigma, Piatkus Books (London, England), 1999, Berkeley (New York, NY), 2000.
The Secret History of Ancient Egypt: Electricity, Sonics, and the Disappearance of an Advanced Civilization, Piatkus Books (London, England), 2000, Berkeley (New York, NY), 2001.
The Magical I Ching, Llewellyn (St. Paul, MN), 2000.
(With Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki) Magical Use of Thought Forms: A Proven System of Mental and Spiritual Empowerment, Llewellyn (St. Paul, MN), 2001.
Death: The Great Mystery of Life, Carrol & Graf (New York, NY), 2002.
Occult Tibet: Secret Practices of Himalayan Magic, Llewellyn (St. Paul, MN), 2002.
Tibetan Magic and Mysticism, Llewellyn (St. Paul, MN), 2006.
Also author of The Ultimate Elsewhere, Futura.
Author's works have been published in more than fifty languages, including Finnish, Dutch, Greek, Hebrew, Israeli, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Slovenian, and Turkish.
Author of radio play The Direction of Love, British Broadcasting Corporation. Contributor of short stories to anthologies; contributor of fiction to periodicals, including Galaxy, Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Worlds of If, Woman, Woman's Choice, Woman's Own, Woman's Realm, and Woman's Way.
Brennan's "Faerie Wars" novel series was adapted for audiobook by Recorded Books, c. 2004.
A prolific author of fiction and nonfiction for children, young adults, and adults, Herbie Brennan writes books that reflect his interest in psychology, mysticism, the occult, comparative religions, and quantum physics, among other subjects. Publishing his bestselling works under several pseudonyms—his work for adults is published under the name J.H. Brennan, while younger readers know him as Herbie Brennan—Brennan is considered among the best contemporary writers of science fiction as well as a pioneering writer of fantasy adventure game books. In addition, he is acknowledged for writing informational books on controversial subjects—magic, reincarnation, time travel, out-of-body experiences, the prophecies of sixteenth-century seer Nostradamus, the existence of Atlantis, and the possibility that the human race was created by extraterrestrial beings—and backing up his provocative positions with well-researched documentation. Brennan also has written books on such themes as death, the spiritual practices of Tibet, the unknown history of ancient Egypt, the history of prehistoric Ireland, and the techniques needed to achieve success. Several of his more esoteric works are regarded as classics in their field and, although not directed to young people, have found an audience among young adults.
In his writing for younger readers, Brennan characteristically blends fantasy and reality in wildly humorous stories, some of which are based on interactions between human children and supernatural creatures. In these works, the author often spoofs well-known genres, such as detective fiction, science fiction, and horror. Although his stories for young readers are noted for their riotous antics and broad humor, Brennan often underscores his work with serious subtexts about such subjects as prejudice and the relationship between parents and children. For teens, he writes realistic and historical fiction, sometimes even combining the two. His nonfiction titles for younger readers focus on subjects ranging from the evidence for human contact with aliens to how to succeed at school by using your mind, how to use the Internet, and how to be a spy. In addition, Brennan has written two collections of stories featuring weird but true facts, and has penned the popular "Faerie Wars Chronicles" series of fantasy novels.
Brennan fills his fiction and picture books with action, puns, wordplay, and humor, some of it scatological. As a stylist, he sometimes favors literary techniques, such as the creation of parallel plots and the use of alternating chapters with different narrative voices. Several of Brennan's historical books for young adults include author notes that present additional facts about their subjects. Although some critics have noted that he occasionally writes thin texts for children and presents outrageous theories to adults, most observers acknowledge him as a leader in both science fiction and New Age writing: an author who combines fantasy, psychology, and science in a particularly arresting manner. In addition, he is recognized as an inventive and enjoyable writer for young people.
Growing up in County Down, Northern Ireland, Brennan developed a keen interest in psychology and started to study books on the subject. His research soon led him to other topics, such as hypnosis; in fact, Brennan hypnotized his first subject, a school friend, at the age of nine. After college, he became a journalist, and by age twenty-four he was the youngest newspaper editor in Ireland. Brennan worked as a magazine editor, a hypnotherapist, a counselor, and an advertising director, among other positions, while also working on his writing. His first books, Discover Astral Projection: How to Achieve Out-of-Body Experiences and Astral Doorways, are considered seminal works among scholars of esoteric writing. Brennan became a full-time writer in 1973, and in more recent books for adults he has continued to explore psychical, psychological, and parapsychological subjects. Brennan also has written romantic novels for adults and has contributed short fiction to women's magazines, science-fiction anthologies, and other periodicals.
Inspired by the growing popularity of role-playing fantasy games during the mid-1980s, Brennan was writing game books in the "GrailQuest" and "Sagas of the Demonspawn," series. The popularity of these books led to additional game books, such as Egyptian Quest, which sends the reader on a journey through ancient Egypt to aid a pharaoh. Offering a variety of adventures, Egyptian Quest is filled with plot twists, surprise pitfalls, and humor; it also offers added attractions such as instructions on how to send messages in hieroglyphics.
Geared for teen readers, Brennan's "Adventures of the Ice Age" novels feature an orphaned Cro-Magnon girl living in prehistoric Europe. The first book in the series, Shiva, introduces the twelve-year-old title character, who is a member of the Shingu tribe, a society ruled by women and managed by magic. Shiva is saved from an angry wolf by Doban, a Neanderthal boy and the son of a chief. After Shiva befriends Doban, the boy is imprisoned by the Shingu because they view his race as a mortal enemy. When she frees her friend and takes him to the forest, Shiva puts herself in danger. The Shingu and the "Ogres," as Shiva's tribe calls Doban's people, prepare for war, but because of the understanding between Shiva and Doban—and Shiva's psychic abilities—the pair are able to prevent it. Shiva also uses the great totem of her tribe, the skull of a saber-toothed tiger, to stop the fight. A Kirkus Reviews critic called Shiva a "thought-provoking Ice Age adventure" and commented favorably on Brennan's "sensitivity to different points of view" and his "creation of sympathetic characters on both sides." Writing in Booklist, Ilene Cooper cited Brennan's ability "to mix history, myth, and adventure," and commended the "book's important messages about similarities and differences."
In The Crone—published in the United States as Shiva Accused—Shiva discovers the murdered body of the Hag, the chief wise woman of all the tribes. The Barradik, a rival tribe, accuse Shiva of the murder, an accusation brought forward as a ploy in order to take political control when a new Hag is selected. The Barradik capture Shiva, beat her, and condemn her to death by stoning. Shiva is saved when a thousand Ogres march out of the forest to act in her defense. Reviewing Shiva Accused in Booklist, Cooper stated that "by switching from one viewpoint to another, Brennan provokes readers and holds their attention with the excitement of the tale." Eleanor K. MacDonald, writing in School Library Journal, noted the novel's "real sense of danger and adventure" before concluding that readers "will discover that the use and abuse of power are as old as man (or woman)."
In Ordeal by Poison, published in the United States as Shiva's Challenge, Shiva has been chosen to be trained as a Crone, or wise woman. In an initiation ritual, she is commanded to drink from one of six bowls, a traditional "ordeal by poison." She wakes from her drugged sleep in a frozen wasteland and must make her way home in order to prove herself. The story also includes two parallel plots. The first features Thag, the tribal leader of the Ogres. Thag has been challenged in battle by Shil, a jealous warrior who defeats Thag unfairly and banishes him to the frozen forests. The second sub-plot features Hiram, a Shingu boy who discovers that Shiva has been taken north in her initiation ritual. He enlists the aid of Heft, an Ogre with legendary tracking skills, and sets off to find her. Describing Shiva's Challenge as "a good addition to the series," MacDonald wrote that Brennan's "story moves with a compelling force."
Among Brennan's work for younger children are a series of humorous stories about Eddie, a duck that witnesses a bank robbery, is kidnapped (or, as Brennan puts it, "ducknapped"), and, after freeing himself, becomes a "ducktective" in order to bring criminals to justice. Told by the title character in the style of the detective stories of the 1940s and 1950s, the "Eddie the Duck" stories feature lots of action, witty wordplay, and happy endings. In her review of the first book in the series, Eddie the Duck, for Magpies, Margaret Phillips concluded that "children will be caught up in the pace and slapstick humour of the story."
Geared for elementary-grade readers, Marcus Mustard is a fantasy novel about how the title character, a boy who is apprenticed in a castle that keeps "spinners," large deadly spiders that make silk for the aristocracy, is poisoned by one of the spinners when he becomes trapped in their breeding area. Writing in School Librarian, Graham Case noted that, "if one of the tests of excellent fantasy has to be ‘the willing suspension of disbelief,’ then this book has achieved it beautifully!"
In The Mystery Machine, Hubert wants to join the circus and become the Youngest Human Cannonball. Accidentally catapulted into the shed belonging to his neighbor, the nasty Mrs. Pomfrey-Parkinson, the boy discovers a strange machine. When he touches a button on the contraption, Hubert is transported to a spaceship, where he discovers that his neighbor is part of an alien group hoping to take over the earth. With the help of his friend Slider and some fireplace soot, Hubert foils the takeover. Writing in Booklist, Carolyn Phelan concluded of The Mystery Machine: "Not just for science fiction fans, this story has its feet on the ground." Also reviewing the chapter book, Anne Connor predicted in School Library Journal that Brennan's "fast-paced, madcap, science-fiction spoof will appeal to young adventure lovers."
A popular story for primary-grade readers, Zartog's Remote describes how Zartog, an eight-year-old alien with several arms, disobeys his three parents and flies his spaceship to Earth, where he is stranded after he loses his remote control. Eight-year-old Rachel, a black girl with thick glasses who is being bullied by a group of thuggish schoolmates because of her appearance, finds Zartog's remote. Finally, Zartog's computer helps the alien return to his planet by using a time machine. Before he leaves, Zartog, Rachel, and Rachel's dog, Lord Percy, use the alien's remote (and Rachel's television remote) to teach a lesson to the bullies at Rachel's school. Calling Zartog's Remote a "fast and easy read," School Librarian contributor Anne Rowe added: "It is funny, too, involving Zartog's responses to earthly things and the surreal nature of our language."
With Frankenstella and the Video Shop Monster (published in the United States as Frankenstella and the Video Store Monster), Brennan made his first contribution to the picture-book genre. In this work, little Stella warns her mother about the monster that she sees in the dark corners of the video store they are visiting. However, her mother ignores her and is eaten by the horned creature. Stella transforms herself into a snaggletoothed giant and roars that she is Frankenstella and eats monsters for breakfast. Before she shrinks back to size, Stella makes the monster burp up her mom and then sends the creature out to sea (with a life preserver). Even though she is covered in green slime, Stella's mother continues to attribute the monster to Stella's imagination. Calling the book "a riotous creature feature," a Publishers Weekly contributor noted that Brennan's story "makes good sport of one's inner and outer demons."
In two books Brennan transports readers to the world of Fairy Nuff, a young sprite who lives with his father, Oldie Nuff, and with his brother and sister, Biggie Nuff and Sweetie Nuff, in a cottage in Bluebell Wood. In Fairy Nuff: A Tale of Bluebell Wood, the protagonist is left alone in the cottage; on his first night, he blows up his home by trying to light a candle with a stick of dynamite on a barrel of gunpowder. This act sends a grenade through the window of the mansion belonging to Widow Jennett Buhiss, a mean witch; the grenade blows up the widow's doghouse and scatters her stock certificates, which are worth billions of pounds. Buhiss sends her troll-like groundskeeper, Orc, to bring Nuff to her. When Orc places Nuff in Buhiss's woodshed, he meets another prisoner: the queen of England. Nuff rescues the queen and thwarts the witch's plan to take over the British Empire. The queen puts Buhiss in the Tower of London and rewards Fairy Nuff by making him a knight and by giving him the widow's stock certificates. A critic in Kirkus Reviews commented on Brennnan's "extravagant puns and over-the-top pacing." Writing in School Library Journal, Eva Mitnick predicted that young readers "will relish the broad humor and witty language, but the characters will really win them over."
In Nuff Said: The New Bluebell Wood Adventure—published in the United States as Nuff Said: Another Tale of Bluebell Wood—Fairy Nuff throws an enormous garden party at a new castle he purchased with some of the money he received in his last outing. He invites the queen of England and the president of the United States, among other notables; builds a theme park; and gets the Chinese State Circus to entertain his guests. However, he does not plan on the presence of two uninvited guests: Widow Buhiss, who has escaped from the Tower, and her henchman Orc. In addition, Nuff does not know that his contractor, who is dyslexic, has mortared his castle with gunpowder rather than cement. Comparing Nuff Said to its predecessor, a Kirkus Reviews contributor dubbed the sequel "equally madcap."
Described by a Kirkus Reviews writer as a "clever, sly fantasy with immediate intrigue and plenty of science," Brennan's "Faerie Wars Chronicles" series has been noted for its crossover appeal to both children and adults. In series opener Faerie Wars young Henry Atherton and his friend old Mr. Fogarty become involved with Prince Prygus Malvae, a faerie royal who has been sent from his own world in order to escape the evil Faeries of the Night. The prince, who must get back home to thwart an attack by the treacherous band, convinces Henry and Fogarty to help him. Praising the fantasy novel in Kliatt, Lesley Farmer wrote that "character development is nuanced, and the plot has some great details and twists." According to Independent critic Nicholas Tucker, "Brennan writes with all the dash of an Irish storyteller at the peak of his form. Inventive as ‘Harry Potter,’ dark as Gormenghast, and as intelligently probing as [the books of] Philip Putnam, [Faerie Wars] … is a title to brighten the dreariest of winter days."
The "Faerie Wars Chronicles" continue in The Purple Emperor, as Henry and the clever former thief and inventor Fogarty return to the faerie realm. They are now called upon to help the royal siblings Pyrgus and Holly Blue in a long-running battle to protect the throne against the treacherous Lord Hairstreak and his minions, the evil Faeries of the Night. Featuring Brennan's characteristic "fast-paced action" and engaging storyline, The Purple Emperor benefits from "plenty of humor as well as dangerous adventure," in the opinion of Booklist contributor Sally Estes. In School Library Journal, Karyn N. Silverman noted that the characters in this series installment are less fully realized, but nonetheless concluded that Brennan's "pacing and inventiveness offer a rollercoaster ride" to young readers.
In Ruler of the Realm the threat of war looms between the Faeries of the Night and the Faeries of the Light. Lured to the castle of Lord Hairstreak with promises of a truce, newly crowned Queen Holly Blue is kidnaped by her fiendish uncle. She is rescued from Hairstreak's clutches by Henry, who has recently been released from his alien abductors. As events progress, Queen Holly and Henry realize that they must soon face a far-greater threat, and readers follow them "on a wild ride filled with faeries, demons, and illusions," according to School Library Journal reviewer Tasha Saecker. "Images are colorful," commented a Kirkus Reviews writer, "and the ricocheting narrative … pulls readers to a surprisingly satisfying conclusion."
A plague is devastating the faerie world as readers open Faerie Lord, the fourth and final volume in the "Faerie Wars Chronicles." As all creatures living in the faerie realm begin to age unnaturally fast, Henry and teenaged monarch Holly Blue must find a cure and save their world. Dubbing the novel a "clever denouement" to the series, a Kirkus Reviews writer added that Brennan "zigzags from thread to thread, gleefully keeping characters (and readers) in the dark as long as possible."
In addition to his career as a writer, Brennan is a student and teacher of the mystical arts, and this interest has inspired such books as Seriously Weird True Stories and The Occult History of the World, Volume One, as well as his "Forbidden Truths" series for teen readers. He trained in Qabalah, an ancient system of mysticism, with the Society of the Inner Light, and with Helios, the precursors of the Servants of the Light. The latter group runs a Mystery school, the Servants of the Light School of Occult Science, that is headed by Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki, an author and educator. Considered one of the most respected esoteric practitioners in the British Isles, Ashcroft-Nowicki collaborated with Brennan on his book The Magical Use of Thought Forms.
Brennan has been married twice: his first marriage to Helen McMaster lasted ten years before separation—although it was a further twenty years before they formally divorced—and produced two children, Aynia and Sian, while his second marriage to Jacquie Burgess, an author and psychotherapist who is considered an expert on the use of crystals and their energies, led to their joint creation of Sacred Science, an informal movement dedicated to the investigation and promotion of the links between modern psychology, physics, and esoteric practice. Brennan is a frequent lecturer on New-Age subjects and has traveled internationally to give seminars on such topics as reincarnation, dreams, magic, and sub-nuclear physics. Committed to learning, he was reading for a master's degree in Western esoterisicm at Exeter University in 2007.
In an interview with Silence Thayer for Cyril Online, Brennan explained his attraction to writing: "I discovered years ago I was addicted to writing, much the same way some people get addicted to drugs—and for essentially the same reason. Stephen King somewhere talks about the writing process as a window opening up on the page and the writer passing through it into a whole different world. I know that feeling very well: it's an escape from reality and I love it. That's what gets me writing." Calling himself "a nuts-and-bolts man" who loves learning how things work, Brennan also discussed his interest in writing for children. "I started writing for kids partly because I got interested in role-play gaming and partly because an American publisher told me I'd make lots of money," he admitted to Thayer. "I kept doing it partly because I discovered I have a very childish mind—what amuses youngsters (bad puns, scatological references, and so on) amuses me as well—and partly because of the feedback. Children are the best critics in the world. They tell you when you're great and they tell you when you're useless. A writer needs that to keep on his toes."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Brady, Anne M., and Brian Cleeve, A Biographical Dictionary of Irish Writers, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1985.
Booklist, December 15, 1990, Ilene Cooper, review of Shiva, p. 855; August, 1991, Ilene Cooper, review of Shiva Accused, pp. 2139-2140; December 15, 1992, Ilene Cooper, review of Shiva's Challenge, p. 727; October 15, 1994, review of Body, Mind, and Spirit: A Dictionary of New Age Ideas, People, Places, and Terms, p. 448; May 1, 1995, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Mystery Machine, p. 1571; September 15, 2004, Sally Estes, review of The Purple Emperor, p. 229.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, May, 2003, review of Faerie Wars, p. 352; November, 2004, Timnah Card, review of The Purple Emperor, p. 115.
Independent, February 13, 2003, Nicholas Tucker, review of Faerie Wars.
Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 1990, review of Shiva, p. 1453; June 1, 2002, review of Fairy Nuff: A Tale of Bluebell Wood, p. 801; October 15, 2002, review of Nuff Said: Another Tale of Bluebell Wood, p. 1527; May 15, 2003, review of Faerie Wars, p. 746; September 15, 2004, review of The Purple Emperor, p. 911; September 15, 2006, review of Ruler of the Realm, p. 947; August 15, 2007, review of Faerie Lord.
Kliatt, November, 2004, Bette Ammon, review of Faerie Wars, p. 21; July, 2007, Lesley Farmer, review of Faerie Wars, p. 30.
Magpies, March, 1999, Margaret Phillips, review of Eddie the Duck, p. 29.
Publishers Weekly, March 27, 1982, review of Dark Moon, p. 41; October 12, 1990, review of Shiva, p. 65; April 1, 2002, review of Occult Tibet: Secret Practices of Himalayan Magic, p. 78; May 6, 2002, review of Frankenstella and the Video Store Monster, p. 58; May 26, 2003, review of Faerie Wars, p. 72; October 18, 2004, review of Faerie Wars, p. 66.
School Librarian, November, 1994, Graham Case, review of Marcus Mustard, p. 162; winter, 2000, Anne Rowe, review of Zartog's Remote, p. 191.
School Library Journal, November, 1991, Eleanor K. MacDonald, review of Shiva Accused, p. 116; December, 1992, Eleanor K. MacDonald, review of Shiva's Challenge, p. 108; July, 1995, Anne Connor, review of The Mystery Machine, p. 76; August, 2002, Eva Mitnick, review of Fairy Nuff, p. 147; March, 2003, Shara Alpern, review of Nuff Said, p. 178; July, 2003, Jane G. Connor, review of Faerie Wars, p. 123; December, 2004, Karyn N. Silverman, review of The Purple Emperor, p. 140; February, 2007, Tasha Saecker, review of Ruler of the Realm, p. 115.
Voice of Youth Advocates, June, 2003, review of Faerie Wars, p. 146; February, 2005, Amy Sisson, review of The Purple Emperor, p. 488.
Cyril Online,http://www.cyrilmagazine.com/ (January 20, 2003), Silence Thayer, interview with Brennan.
Faerie Wars Web site,http://www.faeriewars.com/ (January 20, 2003).
Herbie Brennan Home Page,http://www.herbiebrennan.com (October 27, 2007).