Mimi’s Review of Bury the Living by Jodi McIsaac

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I’d like to thank Tasty Book Tours for letting be host Jodi McIsaac on the blog today, and I’d also like to extend my purrsonal thanks to 47North for providing a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. To see all of the blogs participating in the tour, please kindly click on the banner above. =^.^=

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Rating: paw3

Publisher: 47North

Date Released: September 6, 2016

Series: The Revolutionary #1

Goodreads Description:

Rebellion has always been in the O’Reilly family’s blood. So when faced with the tragic death of her brother during Northern Ireland’s infamous Troubles, a teenage Nora joined the IRA to fight for her country’s freedom. Now, more than a decade later, Nora is haunted by both her past and vivid dreams of a man she has never met.

When she is given a relic belonging to Brigid of Kildare, patron saint of Ireland, the mystical artifact transports her back eighty years—to the height of Ireland’s brutal civil war. There she meets the alluring stranger from her dreams, who has his own secrets—and agenda. Taken out of her own time, Nora has the chance to alter the fortunes of Ireland and maybe even save the ones she loves. In this captivating and adventurous novel from Jodi McIsaac, history belongs to those with the courage to change it.

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Review:

This was an interesting read to what I feel is going to be a promising series. Blending historical fiction with fantasy, McIsaac’s book is one that I would recommend to anyone who is looking for something new to try and/or has an interest in Irish history and mythology. I certainly plan on reading the next book in the series when it becomes available.

Nora was a character whom I both liked and found annoying at times. While I could easily understand where she was coming from as a teenager at the start of the book, I felt at times that she was a bit too stubborn and angry as the story progressed. Despite this I enjoyed watching her character grow and I suspect that as the series continues she’ll become one of those character whom I’ll count amongst my favorites later on. She’s certainly strong-minded, willing to fight, and loyal, all of which are traits that I admire. I also have to applaud her focusing her energy on humanitarian aid missions in other countries.

While there may be those readers who would be put off by the focus on Irish history and politics within the story, I found it intriguing. Yes, I did feel that at times there was probably too much attention given to the political side of things, but I also felt that it needed to be discussed in order to fully understand both everything that was going on plot-wise and Nora’s character. Without the historical and political attention Nora would just come across as an angry teenager at the start of the book and any compassion that the reader would have for her would be minimal. Understanding the struggle and horror that was The Troubles, or the Irish Civil War is important for the success of the story. And yet, as I said there were times where I felt it was a tad overdone. It took too long to get to the heart of Nora’s story, which was why she is sent back in time, and that aggravated me greatly.

It isn’t until the last 25% of the book that we start to learn why Nora was really sent back in time, and this was when the book truly started to pick up for me. Prior to this I felt that the book dragged greatly because there was so much focus on the politics and history, and regardless of how interesting I found it to be, I wanted to experience more of Nora’s interactions with “Thomas” instead. There are so many questions that I have now about his character and I was disappointed that McIsaac didn’t delve much into his character. Here’s hoping that in the next book we’ll see and learn more of him.

Despite this one issue, I still enjoyed the story. I especially loved the Celtic mythology and hope that we get more of it as the series continues. And if I’m to be honest, as soon as I finished reading this book, I pulled out a few of my books on Celtic mythology to read up more on Brigid and learn more about Fionn mac Cumhaill. There’s nothing I love more than studying myths and legends from other cultures, so I must give McIsaac some purrs of appreciation for including these in her story.

Overall I feel that there is a little something for everyone in this book, and it certainly is a good start to a series that holds a lot of promise, so I would encourage readers to give it a try and discover for themselves what the story has to offer. And yes, I will be reading book two when it becomes available. No way would I miss an opportunity to read about Grace O’Malley, Ireland’s infamous Pirate Queen!

Excerpt:

Belfast, 1990

When she was fifteen years old, a simple knock on the door changed Nora O’Reilly’s life—again. The knock was hard and impatient, like the people in her neighbor-hood. Nora ignored it. Maybe, just this once, her mother would rouse herself off the sofa. But no. Her mother hadn’t answered the door since the day Nora’s father had done so and been thanked for his trouble with a bullet through the eye. Nora’s small red footprints had tracked across the beige linoleum. The saint Brigid’s cross that had hung over the doorway for as long as Nora could remember had failed in its promise to protect them.

Ten years had passed, and now the linoleum was more gray than beige. Nora slipped to the front window and peered out. It was the middle of the afternoon; she’d only just arrived home from school. There’d been no warning of a raid—no banging of dustbin lids on the sidewalks to announce that the peelers had dared venture into Andersonstown. Two men she didn’t recognize stood on her doorstep. They must be looking for Eamon.

Nora opened the door a crack. The first man jammed his black boot into the opening. Ballix. Adrenaline flooded her body. She shoved the door against his foot, berating her stupidity. What had she been thinking? What if these men were Prods, come to finish off the rest of them?

“Relax, kid. We just want to talk.” The man forced the door open farther. “You Nora O’Reilly?”

“Depends on who’s asking. Who’re you?” He had bottlebrush hair and wore a brown leather bomber jacket. He looked old enough to be her father, only her father had been wiry, and this man looked like a rugby fullback. His companion had a thin, sharp face and kept looking over his shoulder.

“Doesn’t matter. We’ve been told to fetch you.”

“Fetch me where?” Nora tried to push the door closed again, her mind lurching. Whoever these men were, she wasn’t going anywhere with them.

“The commanding officer of West Battalion has a few questions about your extracurricular activities. C’mon now. Let’s go without a fight.”

Nora’s fear turned to dread. “Like hell I’m going with youse.” She stamped on his foot, but he responded by putting his shoulder to the door and sending it flying. Nora staggered backward, colliding with the coat rack.

Shite, shite, shite. She scrabbled to her feet. She’d almost rather be caught by the Brits. The Provisional IRA didn’t tolerate petty crime in their area, and they certainly didn’t believe in such luxuries as courts and trials.

“Ma! Ma!” she screamed. Her mother would know these men; Nora’s father had been a PIRA member from the beginning.

Her mother came padding into the hall, still in her dressing gown, weaving slightly, a glass of whiskey clutched in her hand. “Paddy Sullivan, what is the meaning of this?”

“Sorry, Mrs. O’Reilly, but O’Connor wants to see her. Seems she’s been selling drugs up at the school.”

Think, Nora, think. She grappled for an explanation, a plausible denial, anything that would get her out of this. But panic clogged her brain, and all she could think was I’m fucked.

She didn’t know her mother could move so fast. Suddenly they were nose to nose. “Oh, aye? Is that true?” Mrs. O’Reilly demanded.

“No, it’s a load of shite!” Nora protested.

“You watch your language. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, what am I going to do with you? What would your poor father say?” Her mother shook her head, then turned back to the PIRA men.

“Whatever she’s done, we’ll take care of it here, so we will. Youse all head out, now.”

“Sorry, Mrs. O’Reilly, but we’ve got our orders.” Paddy nodded to his companion, who brushed past Nora and her mother and pounded up the stairs toward the bedrooms.

“Oi! Houl on! Youse said you just wanted to talk!” Nora shouted after him. Mrs. O’Reilly looked like she was about to follow, but Paddy laid a hand on her arm.

“Just let him do his job,” he said.

“Ma, I’ve done nothing wrong! I swear it!” a faint sheen broke out on her forehead, and the blood drained from her fair skin.

The sound of drawers being emptied and furniture being overturned traveled down the stairs. Mrs. O’Reilly sank down into a kitchen chair and took a large gulp of whiskey. she set the glass down with a clunk and put her head in her hands.

“Ach, Nora, I’ve tried my best with you, sure I have. Where is Eamon?”

“He went out with the lads,” Nora mumbled. She glanced toward the door.

“Don’t you be thinking of doing a runner,” Paddy warned. He wrapped his meaty hand around Nora’s upper arm.

“I’m not! But youse wait until Eamon gets home. He’ll sort youse out all right.”

“She’s quite the lip on her, hasn’t she?” Paddy said to the slumped form of her mother.

Loud footsteps on the stairs made them all look up. Paddy’s friend tossed him a clear plastic jar of tiny white pills.

“Oh, aye, what’s this, then?” Paddy asked.

“It’s not mine! I don’t know where you got it,” Nora said.

“I got it from your room,” the other man said with a sneer. “Unless you’re telling us your ma or your brother put it there?”

“Don’t be an eejit,” Nora spat.

“Nora! Are you trying to get yourself killed?” Mrs. O’Reilly said, locking her watery gaze on her daughter. “Do you think I don’t have enough trouble as it is? Answer the man! Is this yours? What’s in that bottle?”

“I don’t know. I said they’re not mine. Headache pills, prob’ly.”

“Oh, aye?” Paddy said, his grin widening. “With wee happy faces stamped on them? Looks like a fine stash o’ Molly to me.”

“It’s not,” Nora said. She stared at the floor, letting her lank red hair fall forward to hide her face.

“Right, we’ll be off, then,” said Paddy. “We’ll bring her back after.”

“Where are youse taking her?” Mrs. o’Reilly asked. “Can’t say. She’ll not be hurt. But O’Connor wants to talk to her himself, so he does.”

“Then tell him he should come here!” Nora said.

They ignored her.

Mrs. O’Reilly groaned. “Maybe he can talk some sense into her. But sure and you’ll be bringing her back here as soon as he’s asked his questions.”

“Aye,” Paddy said. “Don’t you worry. No one’ll be hurting Jimmy’s daughter.”

“Ma! You’re not letting them take me?” Nora’s brown eyes widened with panic. “They’ll knee me, so they will!” She’d seen it once, a man with both kneecaps shot through. She could still hear his screams, see the blood running down his legs. But then again, he’d been lucky not to get a bullet in the head, like her father.

“You and I both know they’ll not give us a choice, now, don’t we? Go on with the lads, and answer their questions,” her mother answered, pulling herself unsteadily to her feet. “Mind you be polite. Maybe you’ll listen to Mick O’Connor more than you do your own mother.”

With a nod to Mrs. O’Reilly, Paddy and his friend each took hold of one of Nora’s scrawny arms and dragged her out the front door toward a waiting van.

“Someone help! I’m being kidnapped!” Nora yelled, craning her head frantically in search of a savior. Neighbors peeked out from behind curtains, and two boys stopped their game of football down the street to stare. No one came forward.

“Shut yer gub!” Paddy said, giving her a rough shove into the van. “I told yer ma we wouldn’t hurt you for your da’s sake, but if you make it hard for us, all bets are off.”

“Eamon!” she yelled, clinging to the door, hoping her brother was somewhere nearby. He’d stand up to the Provos. He’d protect her. “Eamon!”

About the Author:

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Jodi McIsaac is the author of several novels, including A Cure for Madness and the Thin Veil Series. She grew up in New Brunswick, on Canada’s east coast. After abandoning her Olympic speed skating dream, she wrote speeches for a politician, volunteered in a refugee camp, waited tables in Belfast, earned a couple of university degrees, and started a boutique copywriting agency. She loves running, geek culture, and whiskey.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

***Giveaway***

If you would like to enter for your chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card or 1 of 5 print copies of Bury the Living, please click on the Rafflecopter link below:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/521ac4c81116

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Posted on September 14, 2016, in Book Reviews. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Lovely review. Thank you for hosting BURY THE LIVING today!

    Crystal, Tasty Book Tours