Reviewer Amy Lignor: Amy is the author of a historical fiction novel entitled The Heart of a Legend, and Mind Made, a work of science fiction. Presently, she is writing an adventure series set in the New York Public Library, as well as a teen fiction series, The Angel Chronicles. She is an avid traveler and has been fortunate to have journeyed across the USA, where she has met the most amazing people, who truly bring life and soul to her books. She lives in the Land of Enchantment (for now) with her gorgeous daughter, Shelby, her wonderful Mom, Mary, and the greatest friend and critic in the entire world - her dog, Reuben
Author: Patrick Taylor
Publisher: Forge Books
ISBN-10: 0765320711: ISBN-13: 978-0765320711
This is the fourth book from this spectacular series. The first three are set, as well, in County Down, Northern Ireland in the small, wonderful town of Ballybucklebo. The books before have concentrated on a young graduate of medical school named Barry Laverty and his internship with the strange and enigmatic Doctor Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly. Now, Dr. O’Reilly has always had a housekeeper called Maureen “Kinky” Kincaid. And, in this fourth book, the author decided to explore this colorful and witty character’s background.
Maureen (Kinky) O’Hanlon was a small town girl who lived in Beal na mBláth with her mother, father, and sisters. When we begin this fantastic (and I mean that) story, we are sitting with Kinky in her employer’s house as she readies the meal for Christmas dinner. She is surrounded by children from the village and she is about to tell them a story from her childhood. She is a fabulous storyteller just like her father was so long ago. Instead of beginning Once Upon a Time, we begin as all the Irish do with “And this is what it was…” And we’re off!
Long ago, on one other St. Stephen’s Day, there was a young man in her village by the name of Connor MacTaggart. Now Connor was a wonderful boy who lived very close to her family’s homestead. He would visit often to see the O’Hanlon’s, especially because he was head over heels in love with Maureen’s older sister, Fidelma. One day, Connor was needing wood to burn to keep him warm and came across a large blackthorn tree near his home and decided to cut some firewood. Maureen’s mother – a seer – told Connor not to do this because the Doov Shee (a dark and mystical force) would get mad at him and make him pay if he were to bother their home on November 11th – which was the Festival of the Dead where spirits walked the earth. Connor didn’t believe in Irish hocus-pocus, and certainly not the fact that dark faeries could outwit or harm a big, strapping man like himself. So…he proceeded to cut down the tree and strange things began happening to him. He was visited, as Maureen’s mother had warned him, by the vixen, the raven, and the spider. As the story unfolded, the strange and ominous signs became a thrilling ghost story.
Connor’s tale was literally the stepping stone to Maureen’s life. After she has told her tale and the children go home from the Doctor’s house, we sit with Maureen as she has her tea and thinks back upon the mystical and troubling past that she experienced after the day Connor MacTaggart made the wrong choice. We are introduced to fortune tellers, seers, and gypsies – as well as characters from Irish lore such as Formorians, who are the “evil-eyes.” We stand beside Maureen as she fights for her education to become a teacher, and fights for the man she falls desperately in love with whose future is written in the dreams that only Maureen can see.
The writing is absolutely imaginary and, quite literally, beautiful. Such as when we walk toward a decaying cottage, through fields filled with purple and scarlet flowers that remind Maureen of “gypsies’ petticoats;” and, when Maureen hears the lilting pipes in the distance as she stares at the vixen with the face of a woman. The words are absolutely sparkling and you will not want to put this book down. In fact, you will run to your bookstore and pick up the first three in this series that offer an inside look at the stunning Irish world of fantasy, folklore, and strength.