The Keening by Anne Emery

This is a dual timeline novel set in 2917/18 and the late 16th/early 17th centuries in Northern Ireland. In the 20th century story, Mick Tierney who runs the Tierney Hotel for his father is faced with the threat of a large development, including a casino being built between the hotel and the view of the River Erne, in the midst of which is a Castle on an island. Mick comes up with the idea of bringing in archaeologists to dig up the land round about because a guesthouse stood there four hundred years earlier. If historical artifacts are found, the development will be stopped or at least delayed. Mick’s grandmother warns him not to do it because she is afraid of what will be found.

Which brings us to 1595 and Brigid Tierney, who runs the guesthouse for her brother Diarmait. She attends a gathering at the island castle along with her friend Sorcha who is also a doctor and a seer.  The next morning, Sorcha is found dead near her home with two arrows in her. After an investigation, Brigid’s man and the father of her two children, Shane O’Callahan is accused of the murder.

I hardly know where to begin with this book. One of the best aspects is a treasure trove of information about Irish law, customs and culture. Some truly fascinating tid-bits are offered up. The dialogue skips along (mostly) and some is pure gold. ‘The tide’s nearly out’, meaning the beer is almost gone, and the number of words a man can use to insult another is astonishing. The reader can hear the Irish brogue throughout the modern story.

As the story of Brigid and Shane progresses, shocking facts are revealed that are far worse than anything the modern grandmother could have imagined. At the same time they live in fear that the English will cross the border into Ulster and they will lose the guesthouse.

This was an interesting story and an enjoyable read, although the end was unexpected and horrific. I recommend it for those who particularly enjoy Irish history.


Author: susanappleyardwriter

I am a writer and reader of historical fiction. In the eighties I had 2 books published traditionally and recently 8 books self-published. I live in Canada for half the year - the warm half - and Mexico for the other half.

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