Looks at new Irish books
The Faceless Ones
By Derek Landy
“The Faceless Ones” is the third book in Derek Landy’s immensely popular “Skulduggery Pleasant” series. Aimed squarely at young people, the mercurial Dublin based author has gone the J.K. Rowling route and crafted a book that will appeal to all comers.
The book really has it all -- murder, mayhem, martial arts and tons of snark. If you’ve read the other two “Skulduggery” books you’ll know what to expect already -- some bad guy wants to bring about the end of the world, and only our intrepid hero can stop him.
Landy’s books succeed because they take their young readers seriously from start to finish. There are some decidedly mature themes and plot points at work in this tale, and the author explores them delicately.
It helps that he’s a gifted writer too, because these well written adventures have more real magic and menace than all seven years at Harry Potter’s Hogwarts school combined.
Harper Collins $16.99.
Edited by Morris Beja and Anne Fogarty
June 16, 2004 was the 100-year anniversary of Bloomsday, the day that James Joyce’s fictional hero takes a walk around Dublin. The event was marked by the 2004 Bloomsday Symposium, where world-renowned scholars discussed Joyce’s seminal work and this volume contains the best, most provocative essays from that conference.
Joyce himself accurately predicted that his works would puzzle scholars for centuries, and this collection supports his claim. The diversity of topics covered includes military history, 19th century psychology, Catholic theology and the influence of early film.
Anne Fogarty, professor of English at University College Dublin and the president of the International Joyce Foundation, is the co-editor.
University of Florida Press, $69.95.
The Given Day
By Dennis Lehane
Lehane’s latest is a sorrowful epic set in Boston at the end of the First World War. His mastery of the complex historical, political and cultural forces at work gives the novel a startling immediacy, and the world of his latest novel leaps to life before your eyes.
Two families -- one black, one white -- are swept up in the maelstrom of revolutionaries, anarchists, immigrants and wily ward bosses that populate this novel. This is exactly the kind of large canvas story telling that’s best suited to convey the social struggles of the emerging American century, and Lehane never puts a foot wrong.
Although best known for crime novels like “Mystic River” and “Gone Baby Gone,” Lehane’s sympathy for the vulnerable, his strong blue-collar sympathies and his obvious love for Boston's ethnic groups -- especially the Irish -- makes this a remarkable novel.
The Paupers’ Graveyard
By Gemma Mawdsley
It’s 150 years after the Irish Famine, and the new Hillcrest housing development has been built, wouldn’t you know, on a mass Famine grave. Overnight it’s seeing unnerving and ghostly activity.
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