This was really just fantastic.
It has all the elements I look for in a story and know that my inner 11 year old would have gobbled this up.
It has magic, it has just the right amount of lift-the-hairs-on-your neck spookiness, and it has heart. Big heart. Fionn, his father, and his grandfather will break your heart and then put it back together again.
Arranmore is an enchanted island and the magic that courses through it runs through Fionn’s veins, all of which becomes apparent the moment he steps ashore. The men in Fionn’s family can capture the islands storms in candles and record history rendering back all the way to the islands founding. Burning of the candles allows the storm keeper the ability to travel back to these events.
But sinister magic is also at play here and as Fionn prepares to fill his grandfather’s shoes – a role he isn’t too certain he wants – past jealousies, island feuds, and hidden secrets explode.
This is an excellently paced novel that just keeps the action, mystery and intrigue pumping along. Fionn and his sister, Tara, are very realistic, ordinary kids wrapped up in the extraordinary – extraordinary sadness and magic. The very real pain they face with a mother who has been institutionalized with depression and their father lost at sea gives the novel a heavy balance of reality. As does their very real sibling squabbling.
A really strong middle grade fantasy that finds the right balance between modernity and legend, magic and realism, heart and humour. Really excited to see where Catherine Doyle takes us next.