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.


Bloomsday 100

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.

Harper, $15.99.

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.

When the local diggers disturb the bones of the Famine dead they unknowingly awaken an ancient spirit that quickly results in a series of inexplicable but frighteningly real tragedies.

This debut novel is an inventive and accomplished shocker, showing a real grasp of the horror genre that suggests a bright future for the Irish author.

Mawdsley’s conflation of the horrors of the Famine with the gothic horrors of the supernatural makes for a provocative and unsettling union.

Mercier, $16.95.

Captain Rook: The Irish Agrarian Rebellion of 1821-1834

By James S. Donnelly

The Rockite movement of 1821-1824 in Ireland was notorious for two things -- its fury and extraordinary violence. A native Irish insurgency against the rents, tithes and the ever increasing exploitation of Dublin Castle, the Rockites strove to punish the landed Anglo Irish elites, whom they viewed as oppressors.

The intensity of their grievances saw the movement spread quickly across six counties, creating a formidable challenge for the governing class. Inspired in part by prophecies of doom for the Anglo-Irish elite who ruled the country, this pre-Famine Irish movement prefigured many of the controversies that would shape the century.

In particular Donnelly’s elegantly written book throws light on how Irish rural militant groups operated and how they influenced Irish nationalism in the years before the Great Famine of 1845-1851.

University of Wisconsin, $35.

The Space Between Us

By John McKenna

McKenna, a much-admired contemporary Irish writer, has crafted a new book that’s full of unexpected surprises. Exploring the complexities of love, marriage, friendship, betrayal and unspeakable loss it asks how well do we ever really know each other?

When a man loses his wife in a car accident he is left behind to raise his young daughter alone. But all is not as it seems.

Instead of sorrow he feels immense relief, because the marriage had been floundering for months and he didn’t have the courage to end it. Soon that relief turns into guilt in this emotionally powerful portrait of a marriage and its aftermath.

Dufour Editions, $27.95.