From the winner of the Baileys Prize and the Desmond Elliott Prize for her first novel The Glorious Heresies, I am only too delighted to share my review of The Blood Miracles, the sequel, from Irish author Lisa McInerney.
Just recently published by John Murray, I can tell you immediately that I absolutely loved this book as much as The Glorious Heresies and I think best described in Lisa McInerney’s own words…‘The Glorious Heresies is a landscape and The Blood Miracles is a portrait.’
Please read on for my review of this wonderful book…
Like all twenty-year-olds, Ryan Cusack is trying to get his head around who he is.
This is not a good time for his boss to exploit his dual heritage by opening a new black market route from Italy to Ireland. It is certainly not a good time for his adored girlfriend to decide he’s irreparably corrupted. And he really wishes he hadn’t accidentally caught the eye of an ornery grandmother who fancies herself his saviour.
There may be a way clear of the chaos in the business proposals of music promoter Colm and in the attention of the charming, impulsive Natalie. But now that his boss’s ambitions have rattled the city, Ryan is about to find out what he’s made of, and it might be that chaos is in his blood.
The Blood Miracles is what could be termed a loose sequel to The Glorious Heresies. It is well able to stand on it’s own two feet but I would recommend reading book 1 first as many of the characters are present in both books and it would give the reader a better backdrop to the story.
As already mentioned I have read The Glorious Heresies, my full review which you can read HERE, where I referred to it as ‘a ballsy, yet witty read told with a touch of Cork humour and a lot of passion’. That same passion is very evident in this the second book from Lisa McInerney. Ryan Cusack is now in his early twenties. No longer just a troublesome teen looking for ways to make a fast buck, Ryan is now a fully fledged drug-dealer.
‘A mess in blood and in deed. The oldest son of Tony Cusack and Maria Cattaneo is Cork City born and bred and in it’s sing-song accent speaks fluent Italian, shaky Neapolitan and rough and rapid Hiberno. His eyes are the colour of black treacle and his olive skin is paled by the adjacency to the Atlantic…….His is the business of fledgling savages the world over: he facilitates the movement of illegal inebriants from his foolhardy class into the hands and mouths and nostrils of those who should know better.’
His relationship with his girlfriend of six years, Karine, is still on tender hooks, as Karine attempts to map out a successful career in nursing against all the odds. She has witnessed Ryan crash and burn in the past. She is aware of his exceptional musical talent and attempts to encourage Ryan down that path.
But Ryan knows that he has sold his soul to the devil and he cannot walk away from the people he is now in business with.
Ryan is caught between two local dealers Dan Kane and Jimmy Phelan. These two are fighting over the local patch and Dan is now bringing a new element into the mix, a very dangerous one, The Camorra. With Ryan’s Italian heritage he becomes the perfect go between for Dan but like everything that Ryan does, it’s not long before he realises he is in way over his head.
I should not feel any empathy for Ryan Cusack, yet there is something about his character that is just so sad. Through the book he writes a sort of journal to his mother, who was involved in a fatal accident when he was younger. He is very aware of the decisions he is making, yet there is a fragility about him that just draws the reader in.
Ryan goes on journey and makes some very significantly dangerous enemies along the way. A highly smart and intuitive individual, yet he seems to attract situations of life-threatening peril and it is only with luck on his side that he sidesteps some very deadly scenarios.
The cast of characters in The Blood Miracles is just wonderful. I am a native of Cork City and as I turned each page, I walked next to Ryan as he strolled the streets of my hometown. Lisa McInerney lived in Cork for many years and her familiarity with it’s landmarks, colloquialisms and dialect is pitch perfect.
‘Sometimes Ryan wants to remind Cork City that it can’t hide it’s nature from him. He wants to stand on Patrick’s Bridge and roar at both north and south banks “Don’t think I don’t have the bones of you!” This city like all cities hates it’s natives. It would rather be in a state of replenishment than own up to what it has warped.’
Jimmy Phelan continues his reign of terror in The Blood Miracles. A man with no moral compass, a man who thinks nothing of pulling the trigger should someone or something get in his way. His mother Maureen, also a character from The Glorious Heresies, is a strong woman. Her relationship with Ryan in The Blood Miracles is quite touching and you almost feel like he has someone looking out for him. His father Tony, a raving alcoholic, seems unable to reach out to Ryan and as the book progresses every other relationship Ryan has seems to be in difficulty. Having Maureen by his side, though an odd pairing, almost gives comfort to the reader
Lisa McInerney has written another outstanding read. With the possibility of a TV series looming for The Glorious Heresies and with her books being translated in other countries, Lisa McInerney has hit on something unique. Her writing style is highly original. For some the use of foul language may offend but I personally feel it brings true character to the book. Dialect can oft-times be very difficult to transcend the local environment but in both these books it is the language used which enables the books to move out from the locality and cross borders, while constantly keeping the story-line in context with the Cork setting.
Gritty, audacious, at times brassy and most definitely gutsy, The Blood Miracles is a fitting continuation in this series. Told with Cork wit and black-humour, these books are just ‘pure daycent boy!!’
If you like a book that will challenge you and will make you think, while at the same time make you laugh out loud. I 100% recommend, with the full 5* treatment, both The Glorious Heresies and The Blood Miracles.
Purchase Links for both books:
Lisa McInerney was born in 1981 and just about grew up to be a writer of contemporary fiction.
Formerly an award-winning blogger, her work has featured in Winter Papers, The Stinging Fly, Granta and BBC Radio 4 and in the anthologies The Long Gaze Back (New Island), Beyond The Centre (New Island) and Town and Country (Faber).
Her debut novel The Glorious Heresies (John Murray) was published in 2015 and explores salvation, shame and the legacy of Ireland’s twentieth-century attitudes to sex and family. The Glorious Heresies won the 2016 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and the 2016 Desmond Elliott Prize. It was shortlisted for an Irish Book Award, longlisted for the 2016 Dylan Thomas Award, and named as a book of the year by The Irish Times, Sunday Independent and Sunday Business Post. In 2016 it was published in the United States and in Spain, and will soon be translated into French, Italian, Dutch, Czech and Danish. It has been optioned for television, with Lisa attached to adapt her novel for the screen.
Lisa’s second novel, The Blood Miracles, was published by John Murray in April of 2017.
You can discover more at https://www.lisamcinerney.com/