Dark Warning by Marie Louise Fitzpatrick
|Dark Warning by Marie Louise Fitzpatrick|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: An atmospheric mystery set in nineteenth century Dublin. A beautiful sense of time and place, lyrical prose and an interesting central character make this book very readable, but the mystery plotting is less successful.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: January 2012|
|External links: Author's website|
Taney Tyrell lives in a room in Missus Kenny's boarding house in Dublin. She shares it with her father, her step-mother Mary Kate and her little brother Jon Jon. Life is hard but both Da and Mary Kate are working and they get by. But Taney is lonely. Ever since she was a tiny thing she has known she can see things before they happen. She has the gift of second sight. But Da and Mary Kate don't see it as a gift. They see it as a curse and worse, the curse that killed Taney's mother. But whatever they say, Taney's gift won't be denied. It's as much a part of her as her beautiful red hair.
Isolated by Da and Mary Kate's intransigence and the teasing of the other children, Billy-the-Bowl's arrival in Taney's life is like a breath of fresh air. An outsider just like she is, Billy thinks Tany should be proud of her gift. And at last she has someone with whom she can share her thoughts and feelings.
But then come the visions. Visions of the predator lurking in the dark Dublin alleys...
The good, actually, the very good: Dark Warning has a beautiful sense of time and place and is rich in detail about Irish history and cultural tradition. The prose is just gorgeous, with lyrical descriptions and vivid, energetic dialogue. The characterisation is fantastic, too. Taney herself is wonderfully drawn, fearful of the gift she doesn't fully understand, lonely as only a motherless child can be, but with a central core of courage and resolve. But the secondary characters are all fully-fleshed, from the bitter and impulsive cripple Billy to the grief-stricken and proud Da to Mary Kate, the stepmother with a hard shell but a true heart.
The less good: central to the plotting is the mystery involving the identity of the Stoneybatter Strangler, a violent criminal stalking the neighbourhood and the protagonist in some of Taney's most intense visions. There is a twist in the tale here, but it's not awfully well-handled. No spoilers at Bookbag but I never, ever, manage to pick the dunnit from a list of whos, so if I spot a red herring the first time it appears, you can guarantee there isn't a reader who won't.
Obvious villains aside, I loved Dark Warning. I really felt involved with Taney and her story and nineteenth century Ireland rose vividly from its pages. There was just the right blend of historical detail, kitchen sink drama and the supernatural and I read it with relish.
Verdigris Deep by Frances Hardinge is set in the present day but also features a central character who has visions and a similarly wonderful use of language.
You can read more book reviews or buy Dark Warning by Marie Louise Fitzpatrick at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Dark Warning by Marie Louise Fitzpatrick at Amazon.com.
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