Leigh, Stephen. The Crow of Connemara. NY, NY: Daw Books, 2016.
Stephen Leigh: @sleighwriter
Genre: Science Fiction
Set in Ireland and Chicago, The Crow of Connemara is the spellbinding tale of Colin Doyle, a young Irish-American musician drawn to his grandfather’s homeland. Entranced by the music and legends of the island, gifted with his grandfather’s journal and a mysterious jewel, and bespelled by dreamlike images of a woman calling to him, Colin feels his inescapable destiny lies across the waters.
On the west coast of Ireland, in the Connemara region, the music is everything he hoped it would be, and the legends seem to come to life before his eyes. In the small town of Ballemor, Colin first encounters the woman of his dreams, Maeve Gallagher.
Maeve, a raven-haired beauty with eyes of emerald green, is the leader of a small group, the Oileánach, that has taken over the island of Inishcorr just off the coast and is making their stand against government officials determined to evict them. But Maeve and her followers are more than rebellious squatters—they are the living embodiment of ancient ways, of a time before mortals ruled the lands. And Inishcorr is their last hope for survival, their portal to the place they are meant to be.
But to open that portal, Maeve needs the willing assistance of her chosen bard: Colin. Yet even as Colin falls under her enchantment, Maeve too must struggle against emotions she cannot afford to recognize. For to allow herself to truly care for Colin could spell the end of her people’s hopes, dreams, and very existence.
The Crow of Connemara was exceptional in it’s symbolism and mythological interpretations. I did have a difficult time establishing time frame at the beginning of the book. At first I was thinking it was 1800s, then the incorporation of electricity made me think maybe just post World War II for a farmhouse. When the location switched to Chicago involving airflight and Apple, I knew we were at least in the late 2000s. So, just be aware, going in, that time is not what you initially think.
The character and plot development was decently paced. Both were well rounded and fleshed out to help the reader become a part of the world the author had constructed. The author proceeded through dialogue in a natural way that provided the underpinnings for how the MC thought and interacted without it being heavy handed for the reader. The MC was a believable, sympathetic character that I could relate to early in the story.
One of the major things I look for when reading is how well the editing was done. I will be vociferous in my critique of a manuscript if the author has not done their due diligence in working out major sentence structure issues. I am not a professional by any stretch of the word. However, I do write my own books and I am on the line for everything – editing, production, illustration, cover design, etc.
This particular edition of the book I read was beautifully edited. I was able to immerse myself in the story without the need to re-read sentences. I found the range of vocabulary refreshing. The author understood the value of a thesaurus without indulging in egregious complexity.
If you enjoy Irish mythology, I would be more than happy to point you to this book. It was a solid read. The author did not over-simplify to the point of patronizing the reader. The author also did not write the story at such a difficult level that only a person with a university degree in Irish mythology or English would survive reading it. The audience, I would like to say, could start out at about age 17, maybe younger for a “mature” reader, and go up from there. I could see myself reading this in high school. I may not have been able to relate as easily to some of the deeper issues, but I would have enjoyed what I did understand. With more years on my back, I was able to catch the nuances and enjoyed it ten years post college.
It was a good read. As a practicing minimalist, I would have to pass on shelving it. I don’t think I would re-read it on a kindle. I enjoyed the writing, but I was not so in love with it that I would want to revisit it to relax with multiple times in a year. I do believe there are those out there who would shelve it in a heartbeat though, particularly those who enjoy indulging in creating their own private library. Go for it.