A few weeks ago I was bowled over by the amazing review that Robert Dunbar gave ‘Arthur Quinn and Hell’s Keeper’ in the Irish Times. A quick read will tell you why I was so thrilled!
Alan Early’s Arthur Quinn and Hell’s Keeper (Mercier, €8.99) concludes his Father of Lies trilogy. Praiseworthy as the two previous titles were, it is by far his most significant achievement. The knowledge of, and affinity with, Norse myth that characterise Early’s writing is again strongly evident, but the way these are woven into a narrative that moves effortlessly between past and present represents new levels of attainment. Not since Cormac MacRaois’s Giltspur trilogy of the late 1980s has this been done so convincingly in Irish children’s fiction.
Particularly impressive is the use made of the flooded Dublin cityscape through which Arthur and his young allies make their way, on jet skis, to Arthur’s final engagement with Loki, the “Father of Lies”. Croke Park, Kilmainham Gaol and Áras an Uachtaráin all figure prominently and very entertainingly. But also worth noting is Early’s portrayal of relationships, whether within the family or between friends. It all amounts to an expertly paced and totally engrossing novel.
But most astonishingly of all, this week Robert has included the book in his list of his favourite Irish kids books of the last 25 years! That my little book has been mentioned alongside books that I read and loved as a kid myself is just mind-boggling! I’m so happy that people are liking Hell’s Keeper as much as they are. It was the most fun to write of the three, but also the most difficult to get right.