In 1820s Ireland, Nora Leahy‘s husband Martin, drops dead for no apparent reason at the crossroads where people who suicide are buried. Nora is devastated as this is not too long after the sudden death of her only daughter. Nora is left to care alone for her disabled grandson, Michael. Michael was born a healthy child and was observed to walk and talk when he was two-years-old. However, as a four-year-old, he has regressed. He no longer speaks, cannot walk or do anything independently. He wails through the night, soils himself and his head lolls on his shoulders. Nora hires help from outside the village and brings in young Mary Clifford who is initially shocked at Michael’s presentation.
Apart from Martin’s death and Michael’s regression, other inexplicable things occur in the village. A child is stillborn, cows stop giving milk and hens cease to lay eggs, a woman sets herself on fire. Some of the villagers seek the assistance of Nance Roche – an old lady believed to have the gift of healing using herbs and plants but also knowledgeable of the ways of The Good People.
After the doctor and priest fail to heal Michael, Nora seeks Nance’s help to cure him. They believe he has been taken by The Good People and replaced by one of the fairies. In order to bring the real Michael back, a series of spiritual acts must be followed. Mary however, becomes sceptical of these as well as Nora’s treatment of Michael.
Can Nance bring Michael back from The Good People?
And what exactly is happening in this village?
Kent’s second novel is just as intriguing as her first. She has the Irish setting down perfectly and the grim environment seeps through the words. While the entire village is superstitious, it’s not hard to believe them nor does it come across as being judgemental or satirical in any way. Kent manages to make the reader empathise with Nora, Mary, Michael and even Nance despite them having different struggles and sometimes, contradictory ones. She makes you want to turn the pages to learn more and to find out what happens to Michael. I’m not someone who often reads historical fiction but ever since I read her first book, Burial Rites, for my book club some years ago, I knew her books would hook me.
***Read and reviewed for the 2017 Aussie Author Challenge and the 2017 Australian Women Writers Challenge. Also linking up with the Write Tribe Problogger Challenge, Denyse for Life this week and Alicia for Open Slather***
Until next time,