Review Blog

Jul 06 2015

Resonance by Celine Kiernan

cover image

Allen & Unwin, 2015. ISBN 9781743313084
(Age: 12+) Recommended. Fantasy, Dublin 1890's, Historical novel, Angels. The theatre district of late nineteenth century Dublin is the fascinating setting for this fantasy, steeped in the history of the these times. Several young people are introduced early: Tina, the theatre seamstress is loved by Joe, a street worker living with the appalling Mickey, and a down at heel magician, lately travelled from America to work at the theatre, Harry, become endeared to the readers. We see their poverty, the demeaning circumstances of their lives, their hand to mouth existence, being exploited by those around them, all a neat contrast for what is to come. Through these impoverished streets hunts a team of men from another sphere, Immortals, on the prowl for something to tempt their ailing friend, a morsel which will revive him. The hints about this reinvigoration will make the reader's spine tingle as all sorts of possibilities are hinted at. The paths of these two groups inevitably intersect, and a carriage whisks the dying Joe away, Tina kidnapped as well but with Harry finds a way to join them.
The description of the nineteenth century theatre scene in Dublin is mesmerising as is the description of the poverty in the back streets, along with the gangs, violence and crime. I really enjoyed the first part of the book set in Dublin, but found the section set in an icebound world more difficult to get my teeth into. But I kept going, wanting to follow and know the fates of our protagonists. The Immortals have taken their prey back to the castle to keep the angel alive, so the story becomes one of cat and ouse as the trio will do what they can to survive. The Immortals are an odd bunch, having been in the castle for over two hundred years and as the story proceeds, the reader will have all sorts of questions in their mind about just who they are. They bizarrely need new people to entertain them and the reader knows that those chosen for whatever reason to be the entertainers may also have a short life. But Harry, the American magician steals away in the coach as well and is outside the thrall of the Immortals, bent on rescuing his new friends and appalled at what the Immortals are doing to the captive angel. The main characters I found most endearing, and their back stories hinted at in the first part, are gradually revealed as their survival becomes uppermost in the tale.
For fantasy lovers this is a treat, engaging characters, a slice of strongly described reality in a finely tuned historical context then a different world where angels are a reality.
Fran Knight

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