The Forester’s Daughter by Claire Keegan
Published by Faber & Faber, 2019
My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
This tale of secrets and wilful ignorance simmers with a quietly menacing tension. Set in rural Ireland, it chronicles the unravelling of long-guarded lies within a family, and the unique brand of loneliness that comes with sacrificing desire in favour of keeping up appearances. The climax feels tragically inevitable, and though the whole thing is full of supressed pathos, the ending delivers an unexpected sliver of hope that comes with new beginnings. Couple this with the straight-forward yet assured prose, and the story takes on a fable-esque quality that I really enjoyed.
You can read The Forester’s Daughter as part of a full collection of stories by clicking here.
A Keeper by Graham Norton
Published by Coronet, 2018
My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
When her mother dies, Elizabeth returns to her home in rural Ireland to sort out her belongings. Uncovering a box of hidden love letters, she delves into a past she knew nothing about, finally coming to understand her own origins, and the woman her mother truly was. Using a dual narrative structure, Norton explores the depth of parental love, the pressure to adhere to societal norms, the pain of keeping secrets, and the cyclical nature of family drama across different generations. Twists are eked out at a good pace, and I remained intrigued throughout. The separate time periods and the general tone of pathos are evoked well, but I felt things became a little convoluted towards the end. Still, Norton can weave a good yarn, and I would be open to trying more of his fiction.
You can pick up a copy of A Keeper from Book Depository by clicking here.
The Ghost, The Owl by Franco, illustrated by Sara Richard
Published by Diamond Book Distributors, 2018
My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
I picked this graphic novel up on a whim after seeing some of the art online a while ago and thinking it looked gorgeous. Very fable-esque in tone, it centres around an owl helping a ghost to make peace with her life and death, and struggling with the rule that forbids animals from interfering with human lives. Story-wise, it was fine. Things felt a bit rushed and there were a couple of plot holes (even within the context of such a whimsical story), but I did like the allegorical message about overcoming difference so we can stand together against injustice. The highlight was definitely Sara Richard’s art, however. She forgoes traditional panels entirely, the whole thing blending together into one continuously flowing visual narrative. The attention to detail is stunning, and I would certainly seek out more of her work.
You can pick up a copy of The Ghost, The Owl from Book Depository by clicking here.