A beautiful atmospheric book that I loved reading. Hannah Kent has written this story with amazing details, fascinating insight into the Irish folklore and scenery. She is a wonder at writing about the countryside and is a natural storyteller.
Based on true events in County Kerry, Ireland in 1825 and set in a lost world bound by its own laws, this is a gripping read. If you loved Buriel Rites, you will adore this and it just might be even better.
The central character, Nora, bereft after the sudden death of her beloved husband, finds herself alone and caring for her young grandson Micheál. Micheál cannot speak and cannot walk and Nóra is desperate to know what is wrong with him. What happened to the healthy, happy grandson she met when her daughter was still alive?
She recruits Mary at a local fair to help just as the whispers are spreading: the stories of unexplained misfortunes, of illnesses, and the rumours that Micheál is a changeling child who is bringing bad luck to the valley.
Neigbhour, Nance with her knowledge of ways, beliefs and healing methods keeps her apart. To the new priest, she is a threat, but to the valley people she is a wanderer, a healer. Nance knows how to use the plants and berries of the woodland; she understands the magic in the old ways. And she might be able to help Micheál.
As these three women are drawn together in the hope of restoring Micheál, their world of folklore and belief, of ritual and stories, tightens around them. It will lead them down a dangerous path, and force them to question everything they have ever known.
With wonderful storytelling and an insight into the old Irish ways this is a joy to read.