This is the tale of a golden brooch and how it wreaks havoc on the lives of fourteenth century English and Irish. The brooch is imbued with the spirit of a malevolent Irish queen, but it is highly desired thanks to a clever lie propagated by its fourteenth century discoverer. He claims the brooch was owned by St. Patrick and will bring luck, and though he dies the day after its discovery, no one ever suspects. We watch as the brooch continues to bring disaster everywhere it goes. In the fourteenth century, our main character is John de Bermingham. We accompany him when he is fostered to an Irish family, when he has his first love affair, and throughout many other ordinary and extraordinary events as he struggles to save Ireland from the conquering English.
I like Birmingham’s idea, that this period in English and Irish history is so destructive that it allows him to introduce an external force as a frame for a historical novel. It’s a clever device and this is a great story. Birmingham has no trouble with plotting; his novel is a roller coaster powered by history and takes no time to get going. I knew all the history he was introducing except for a few of the Irish segments, but I still found it to be an exciting and at times unpredictable read. His research on the de Bermingham family and the period is evident, and he uses that knowledge to great effect here.
I did have a few issues, however, namely with some of the dialogue. This is a self-published work and though it has had one professional edit, it could use another to reach its full potential. Some of the dialogue could be more effective and realistic, a few commas are missing, and the Latin doesn’t seem to make sense. I didn’t like John very much (though his arrogance is a part of his journey, so it makes sense, and he does repent by the end), but I loved some of the supporting cast – my favorites were Avalena and Deirdra. Both of them are excellent in their own ways.
This is a novel that needs some work, but has a ton of potential and is certainly entertaining. I’ll happily be reading Mr. Birmingham’s next book. Buy this book on Amazon.