Midsomer meets Middle Earth in Hootcat Hill, an everyday tale of village folk caught up in strange events when old and new magic meet in the town of Wyrmesbury. Teenage Linnet Perry is reluctant to acknowledge that she has special powers until the disappearance of her best friend and her brother force her to confront the fact that she is the Maiden Guardian, whose destiny it is to save her community when the worldwyrm stirs from its long sleep.
Things really begin when her friend’s brother Tom, a student at Oxenfoord University, is swallowed by the earth as he drives a technomachine across Black Meadows formerly preserved as the haunt of the Fey Folk, guardians of the wyrm. This leaves little choice for Linnet but to respond to her destiny and to enter into the mysterious and threatening world that lies under Hootcat Hill.
There is a lot going on here, but Coats keeps a firm hand on her prose and brings a leavening humour to proceedings that turns her first novel into something more than a run-of-the mill overblown fantasy.