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Dubray Review

NOTE: This set is out of stock at the publisher, and is unlikely to be reissued. We will not be able to fill any orders received for the time being.
|This enchanting adventure takes place exactly 1000 years ago, in the days immediately before the Battle of Clontarf. It’s the story of four children whose lives unexpectedly cross in a most surprising manner!

Elva’s big sister Arna often mysteriously disappears from their house late at night, while Dara and his father are marching from Munster to join Brian Boru’s army. Skari and his clan set sail from the Orkney Islands to fight for King Sitric of Dublin. There is tension is in the air as the battle date approaches. Everyone is on tenterhooks as a battle this large fills them all with trepidation.

Eithne Massey masterfully builds up the tension as the day of battle dawns. Her previous books include The Silver Stag of Bunratty, The Secret of Kells and Where the Stones Sing. I really, really enjoyed this mystical, intriguing story of adventure and magic. This is a must-read for everyone aged 10 and over.

- Vivienne Luke, Rathmines
|Frog Music is a dark and erotic tale of jealousy and intrigue set during the heatwave and smallpox epidemic of San Francisco in 1876. It is based on the true story of the murder of Jenny Bonnet, a gun-toting, straight-talking, frog catcher who likes to wear men’s clothes. Jenny befriends Blanche, a former circus performer who now earns a living as a burlesque dancer and prostitute. They have a short-lived and calamitous affair that begins when Jenny runs Blanche down on a stolen Penny Farthing and ends in a shower of bullets in a darkened room. Despite the fact that Arthur, Blanche’s lover, and his companion Ernest, sponge off Blanche, she is happy with her lot until Jenny crashes into their lives. Ultimately, one woman loses her life while the other loses her home, her lover and all her worldly possessions.

- Bobbie Ryan, Blackrock
|Days after the liberation of Paris, young medical officer Charles Jackson witnesses a man apparently drinking blood from the neck of a murdered woman. Frozen with terror, he convinces himself he must have imagined it, that worse things happen during wartime and that the incident has nothing to do with him. Nevertheless, the scene plagues Charles’ life and replays over and over in his imagination with a cruel persistence. Years later, Charles returns to Paris as a noted haematologist and is astonished to see the same man – the Margrave Verovkin – dining with a young woman. Driven by an obsession to stalk Verovkin, Charles commits depraved and unspeakable acts in a lifelong search for the truth and, ultimately, revenge. A Love Like Blood is a dark and atmospheric tale. Haunting and compelling, it fits firmly in the tradition of great horror classics. 

- Mary Esther Judy, Galway
|Few among us can claim to be anything other than ordinary while others manage to rise above the commonplace in their own extraordinary way. Such a man is Jack McNulty who looks back on his life, trying to make sense of the decisions and events that resulted in his remarkable life. Just as he did in A Long Long Way, Sebastian Barry shows once again in this new novel how the coincidence of historical events caused internal conflict for many Irishmen serving in the British Army. Jack reminisces from his Accra lodgings in Ghana on his failed marriage, on his work as an engineer and on his temporary enlistment as an officer in the British Army during the Second World War. In The Temporary Gentleman, we once again enter the mindset of an era that still resonates to this day.

- Robin Forsythe, Dun Laoghaire|Two very different creatures find themselves thrust into the melting pot of New York on the cusp of the 20th century. Chava is a golem, created from clay and bound to do the bidding of her master, her husband. When he dies, Chava is left alone and unsure in a strange land. Ahmad is an ancient djinni, a powerful fire spirit imprisoned in a copper flask for a thousand years. He is set free only to find, to his despair, that he is trapped in a human form. Chava and Ahmad must learn to integrate without divulging their supernatural origins and, tentatively, they develop a friendship through their shared otherness. The rich background of Jewish and Syrian traditions and culture brings the story alive while posing philosophical questions about the burden of free will and what it means to be human.

- Réiltín Joyce, Grafton St
|The title of this novel is surely an allusion to Orpheus, the figure of Greek myth famed for his ability to tame the natural world, whose music soothed wild beasts while stirring even trees and stones into activity. Peter Els, the aged composer at the centre of the story, regards the world in much the same way as Orpheus might have done. For Els, the track of life is laid out like a sheet of musical composition: though patterned, rhythmic and structured, it remains open to manipulation. His memories are carried to him in melodies; music acts as his access point to the past and yet it is the future that is his final concern. Els’ journey in this novel is towards a kind of immortality, one that only music can make possible. This symphony of a novel may well be Powers’ masterpiece.

- Leon Hickey, Bray
|A. J. Fikry’s life has been turned upside down. His young wife died in a tragic accident, while his treasured first edition of a little known Edgar Allen Poe classic has been stolen.  He does not appreciate Amelia Loman, an enthusiastic rep, trying to sell him titles that just might keep his failing bookshop in business. A.J. hates post-modernism, post-apocalyptic settings, post-mortem narratives, magic realism and young adult books.  He doesn’t like children’s books, particularly stories about orphans, but what happens next will change his life forever: Maya, a young toddler, is left abandoned in the bookshop. Assisted by a Police Chief who, criminally, reads only thrillers, A.J. is about to discover the true meaning of Island Books’ motto: No Man Is An Island; Every Book Is a World.  This is a wonderful, big-hearted read for anyone who loves and appreciates books and bookshops.

- Aileen Smyth, Rathmines
|Philipp Meyer brings the story of the American frontier to life in a huge novel spanning the history of Texas from independence until the present day. Each of the first person narratives is by a member of the McCullough family, whose lives overlap but whose experiences of life are hugely at odds with each other. Eli McCullough inhabits a world where the only boundaries are physical ones; there are savage hardships in the wilderness but if you can endure them you will prosper.  The struggle of his son Peter in trying to walk the line between family and companionship is the moral heart of the book. And Jeanne Anne, Eli’s great-granddaughter, modernises the family business and is witness to many changes in the social order. The Son is a page turner about shifting borders, as layers of civilisation impose themselves on what went before.

- Kevin Power, Kilkenny
|It is difficult to define exactly what this book is but perhaps it is best described as a combination of history, philosophy and memoir.  The first section takes the reader on a journey through hot air ballooning in the 19th century while the second section drifts into a discussion of photography.  However, the real crux of the book comes in the final section with an intimate and honest account of Julian Barnes’ journey through grief after the loss of his wife, Pat Kavanagh.  Barnes discusses the surprising and beautiful results that occur when people or objects are paired together and how life is changed by such small unions.  Full of insight and interesting thoughts, this unusual book packs a real punch despite its small size. Barnes’ depths of emotion left my own mind open to the real gifts that life can bring.

- Karen McKay, Stillorgan
|Mrs Sinclair's Suitcase is the story of two very different women. Dorothea is now in a care home but was once the unhappy wife of a soldier away at war. Her lonely life changed when she encountered Polish Squadron Leader Jan Pietrykowski. As their friendship grew, Dorothea finally began to believe in happiness but then made a shocking decision that had terrible repercussions. Roberta, her granddaughter, works in the Old and New Bookshop where her passion is taking care of old books and discovering the secret treasures tucked away inside them. When Roberta's father brings in a suitcase of Dorothea's old books, Roberta discovers a letter written by her grandfather to Dorothea in 1941 but, according to Dorothea, Roberta’s grandfather died in the war in 1940.  Roberta's determination to discover Dorothea's secret is at the core of this cleverly understated debut novel.

- Aileen Smyth, Rathmines
|Oliver Ryan seems to have it all: a successful career as an author and a comfortable life with his illustrator wife, Alice, in their beautiful home in the suburbs. So what would drive Oliver to attack Alice one evening, leaving her in a coma? After this shocking opening scene, we are taken back to Oliver’s adolescence when he worked on a vineyard in France. He befriends the elderly father and young son of the Madame who owns the vineyard and this fateful relationship is to shape Oliver’s future with tragic and disturbing consequences. Each chapter is cleverly told from the viewpoint of the various people involved in Oliver’s life – including an infatuated lover, a trusting employer and Oliver himself – culminating in the night of the fateful attack. This debut novel is an unnerving lesson in how deceptive appearances can be.
- Jennifer Forde, Bray
|When Alphonso the Alligator arrives unexpectedly on her doorstep, Foxy DuBois has no idea that within a very short time she will be penniless and living in fear of being gobbled up for lunch. Alphonso’s insatiable appetite is a constant source of worry for Foxy because if she doesn’t keep his tummy full then she will be next on the menu. When Foxy devises a get-rich-quick scheme to rid herself of Alphonso, she has no idea of the chaos she is about to unleash. Hijinks abound!

The first in a hilarious new series for younger readers, Foxy Tales: The Cunning Plan is sure to delight both adults and children alike. With its super cast of characters, highly-entertaining plot and fabulous illustrations, this book is guaranteed to keep the entire family hooked and in stitches.

- Sally Kingston, Dubray Books Bray
|Laura and her teenage children arrived in Gost, a small town in Croatia, having bought as a holiday home an old house that has lain empty for years. Duro Kolak lives nearby, alone but for his two hunting dogs and his memories. Twenty years before, terror had come to Duro’s beautiful homeland and suspicion, betrayal and evil followed. Duro becomes the family’s hired man, helping to restore the house. As he works, he tells us the story of his life, the fate of his family, friends and neighbours, the ember of hope still burning in him. Duro Kolak has stayed in my mind ever since I first read The Hired Man and I mourn for him. I savoured every word and found it to be powerful, subtle and shocking.

- Margot Coughlan, Stillorgan
|Two unlikely acquaintances: one a single mum and the other a hopeless stranger. Jess is left with two children after her husband runs out on her and she has to work two jobs just to keep her head above water. Ed is on the brink of losing everything.  His attempts to rid himself of someone result in his being investigated for insider trading and he takes to drinking with what little money he has left. What could Jess and Ed possibly have in common but the drive to survive the hand that life has dealt them? JoJo Moyes has a great ability to capture life's struggles through stories of people we can all relate to.  As she did with her previous novel Me Before You, JoJo Moyes takes the everyday trials of life and brings the reader on a therapeutic journey. 

- Noelle Grace, Dubray Books Kilkenny