Ghosts and Lightning by Trevor Byrne

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Ghosts and Lightning by Trevor Byrne

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Category: Literary Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Luci Davin
Reviewed by Luci Davin
Summary: A story of loss and longing and the oddness of things, and of a young Dublin man at a turning point in his life.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: May 2010
Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd
ISBN: 978-1847673305

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Denny comes home to Dublin from Wales after his mum dies suddenly, and hangs around drinking and taking drugs with his sister, her girlfriend and some of their mates, while he wonders what to do with himself. There are some practical matters to sort out too, such as the nasty older brother who owns their house and wants his siblings out.

This is a rambling story told in dialect with lots of bad language chucked in along the way. The plot such as it is takes some time to develop, as these are characters who meander through life.

Not a novel for every taste then, but I quite enjoyed this story of a young Irish man at a turning point in his life. I thought it was quite witty and although a lot of Denny’s mates are pretty useless, junkies and dealers, they are portrayed with warmth and affection and I cared about what happened to them.

One of the things I liked about Denny was his loyalty to his friends. At the same time, he is not necessarily going to do everything they do. He went to Wales considering studying, and while I prefer not to spoil the end of his story for anyone who might read it, I finished reading thinking that Denny will find a future for himself when he is ready.

There is an author’s afterword titled Loss and Longing and the Oddness of Things, which describes the novel well, actually, in which Trevor Byrne makes it clear that while Denny may be a little bit like him, this isn’t totally autobiographical – his parents are alive and well and living together. He also explains the series of apparently lucky chances which led him to the Creative Writing course at the University of Glamorgan where he started writing this novel.

An entertaining debut novel and I will be interested to see what this young writer does next.

Thank you to the publishers for sending a copy of this book to The Bookbag.

You might also enjoy Here Are the Young Men by Rob Doyle. Another novel about growing up is Besotted by Joe Treasure. Another Irish novelist who uses colloquial language (and swear words) in his work is Roddy Doyle, author of many fine novels including Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha and The Dead Republic.

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Buy Ghosts and Lightning by Trevor Byrne at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Ghosts and Lightning by Trevor Byrne at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Ghosts and Lightning by Trevor Byrne at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Ghosts and Lightning by Trevor Byrne at


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