Friday, August 12, 2011


Pages: 255
Date: 11/08/2011
Grade: 5-
Details: Uncorrected Proof Copy
            Junior Fiction 13 – 16
            To be published (in Ireland) in September

Set in Dublin in 1974, Patrick and Dominick are 15 year old twins when their granny burns down the house where they live with her, their parents and little sister.
After the fire in which they lose everything they own, the family moves to the house near the sea where they usually spend their holidays. Almost immediately after arrival things start changing for Pat and Dom. Initially the changes are almost imperceptible; strange dreams followed by hunger attacks, an old man who nearly drowns in the sea and is saved by the boys and sightings of a ghostly little boy, or goblin as Pat says, and a man in a soldiers uniform.
When the little boy seems to attach himself to Dom it scares Pat for reasons he can’t quite explain, but that is only the beginning. It isn’t long before Pat has to fight to save his twin’s life, up against forces he doesn’t understand in a fight he has little chance of winning.

I am so impressed with Celine Kiernan’s imagination and writing. I loved how the tension in the story slowly builds up until the reader suddenly finds themselves in the middle of a full blown nightmare, without being quite sure how they ended up there.
The characters in this book are well drawn. Especially Pat’s frustrated anger is so recognisable for anyone who has ever been in contact with a 15 year old boy.
The way in which the past of the first world war and the present of 1974 tie in together works very well, makes for fascinating reading and gives a wonderful little bit of insight into Irish history and sentiments. Especially for youngsters, with no memory of their own of the 1970’s this will be an eye-opener.
This may be a ghost story, but ultimately it is a book about love and the lengths one boy will go to in order to save his twin from a horrible fate.
Without wanting to give anything away I also have to add that I’m impressed with the way in which Kiernan didn’t opt for a miracle ending to the book and in doing so created a very realistic finale.

I would like to add that I prefer the Irish title, Into the Grey, over Taken Away, the title on my copy from Allen & Unwin.

I can honestly say that I love Celine Kiernan’s writing. I feel privileged that I have once again been allowed to read a work by her before its actual publication and hope that she never stops writing. As long as she keeps on putting words on paper, she will have a faithful follower in me.

(Note: the cover pictured above is of the Irish version of the book to be published by O’Brien’s Press in September, 2011).

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