This book was simply begging to be picked off my to be read pile. The golden spine giving off its own magical glow when the light caught it. And the magic continued inside...
When Fionn and Tara Boyle’s mother sends them to the island of Arranmore for the summer to stay with their grandfather they have no idea of the adventures and troubles that await them, or at least Fionn does not. He has no desire to go to the island and is resentful of the fact that he has been sent there. Tara is rather more excited about the prospect of a summer away from home. For she is better informed about the island but is not that keen on sharing that information, particularly with her younger brother. There is also the small matter of the boy that she met on the island last year. The two share a typical brother and sister bond - the irritating older sister who is now too mature (in her words) to hang about with Fionn the tag-a-long younger brother.
On a rough sea crossing from Dublin to Arranmore, Fionn feels terrible - little does he know that seasickness is only the start of his troubles. There are strange goings on a-plenty on the mysterious island of Arranmore. The island seems to change without explanation. Why do flowers grow in an instant and then vanish just as quickly? Why do storms appear and then disappear at the drop of a hat, or should that be at the lighting of or snuffing out of a candle? Why do ravens suddenly flood into previously clear skies? Why does smoke pour out of the chimney above an empty fireplace? And why does his grandfather have so many candles? Fionn will uncover the answers to all these questions and more as he learns the truths and secrets about Arranmore Island and its Storm Keeper.
This is a thoroughly enjoyable adventure story that takes the reader around and through the many layers of Arranmore Island. It gives the reader a desire to go adventuring around rugged islands and explore hidden caves. To feel the biting wind on your face, the cold rain lashing down on skin, the mud and water seeping through sodden socks and then returning to the warmth of a ramshackle cottage where the fire will hopefully be ablaze and not just smoke drifting out of the chimney.
One of the on-going themes in the book is that of rivalries. Of rivalries past and present. Of rivalries known and unknown. Dagda and Morrigan; Bartley and Fionn; Fionn and Tara. The relationship between Fionn and Tara fluctuates between hate, annoyance, resentment and ultimately reconciliation. The troubles they face ultimately bring them closer together.
Doyle’s writing is rich with vocabulary and I was captivated by her use of language to describe the weather - a masterclass in how to write brilliant weather prose for readers and writers of any age:
“The sun chased the clouds from the sky.”
“The sky was angry, the thunder growling like an angry beast.”
“The clouds arced over them, bruised around the edges, where shades of indigo and violet bled into grey and black.”
“The sun was sitting in the sky like a plump orange, its edges feathered by cloud as fine as candyfloss.”
“The clouds were skimming the sea and bringing saltwater with them, until it tasted as though the ocean was falling from the sky.”
The end leaves the reader with many questions answered but also raises new unanswered questions. My guess would be the next adventure with Fionn, The Lost Tide Warriors, will resolve many of the unknowns as I’m equally sure Doyle will leave the reader with many more wonderings.
Recommended for 9+.
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