Imprint: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
What a simply sparkling debut novel! It did take me two nights rather than my usual one (but I confess a little tiredness even after a week of holidays) but it was simply page-turning and thoroughly engrossing.
Fionn Boyle and his older sister Tara are going to Arranmore Island for the summer to stay with their paternal grandfather. Tara, who is thirteen and has turned into a right little cow since her birthday, has been for a visit the previous summer but for Fionn it is his first experience of his ancestral home and his first encounter with his rather odd grandfather. Fionn has plenty of time to become acquainted with his grandpa though as Tara has cut him right out while she aids and abets her ‘boyfriend’ Bartley (a thoroughly poisonous toad) in his quest to discover a long hidden secret.
That secret is to be a huge part of Fionn’s initiation into true island acceptance, and in fact his true inheritance, and that doesn’t just refer to the inhabitants. From the first day Fionn is bemused and intrigued by the overwhelming and obvious existence of magic running throughout almost every aspect of the island. He cannot ignore it as it keeps appearing in one form or another often when he least expects it.
Doyle’s plot has twists and turns a-plenty keeping the reader fully engaged with the very believable characters as they intertwine in past and present. In style and concept it reminds me of the masterful work of Alan Garner, blending mystical legend, magic and contemporary reality and, much like Garner, Doyle has taken a locale and its history well-known to her and woven a narrative that could well become a modern classic.
I really relished every word of this and look forward to reading her future work.
Very highly recommended for readers from around ten years upwards.