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.
I got sent this great little short story by a young writer in Longford and thought I’d share it here. I suppose you could say it’s the first piece of Arthur Quinn fanfic!
The Underground War
Peter Quinn was an 12 year old boy.He moved in to a house in Dublin he didn’t like it was the holidays they just started.The first day he found a new friend named Arthur Arthur show him the Dublin castle. The next morning Peter went to Arthur’s house then they went to Croke park then loki attack them Peter asked Arthur “what is your surname” he replied to him “I’m Arthur Quinn your mom told me not to tell you”why “because I’m your cousin”
You may not realise this but Arthur Quinn is originally from Kerry; a place called Farranfore to be precise. And this weekend, I was in Kerry. Of course I visited the birthplace of Arthur and the train station that features in Arthur Quinn and Hell’s Keeper.
Last week I posted a few teasers for ‘Arthur Quinn and Hell’s Keeper’ (aka Arthur Quinn 3) on Twitter. I figured I’d put them all here – (with the trailer!) – to give you a better chance of piecing together the clues.
You can find more info (and a couple more hints) at the rebooted Arthur Quinn website. The book hits the shelves at the start of August and you can find out what everything means then!
‘People will whisper your name around campfires and in the dark of night. You, Hel, will be the thing they fear the most.’
‘Graffiti covered the walls… One read “Burn in Hell!” and beneath it someone else had sprayed “We’re already in it!”‘
‘Then, without any warning, he unhooked his seat belt, flung open the passenger door and leaped out of the speeding car.’
Sarah – the amazing designer in Mercier Press – designed the bookmarks for each of the Arthur Quinn books. I’ve loved all of them but I have to say, I think my favourite is the one for Hell’s Keeper, which I just got a sneak peek of. And because I’m so generous, I’m going to give you a sneak peek here!
I’ll have bookmarks with me at readings and events until they run out.
So, as in the previous posts (World Serpent and Fenris Wolf), here’s a little sample of the music I listened to while writing ‘Arthur Quinn and Hell’s Keeper’ and that you might like to listen to while reading it.
I don’t want to give too much away about the book so really can’t go into why this music is important. However, I’ll tell you as much as I can.
First up is:
Fuori Dal Mondo – Ludovico Einaudi
This is a really beautiful piece of piano music that I first heard in a film called ‘This is England.’ I listened to it a lot while writing the first five or six chapters of Arthur Quinn and Hell’s Keeper? Why? Well, it fits the tone of those early chapters I feel. It’s sad and melancholy but with a definite urgency.
Container Park – Chemical Brothers
You’ll notice that there’s a lot more film score this time around. I think it’s because a thumping film score like this works really well in action-driven scenes. This piece, from the movie ‘Hanna’ really suits the middle portion of the film. It’s a bit weird and creepy but it’s also got that urgency again. Chapters 9 onwards…
Omen – The Prodigy
This track kind of has lyrics but it’s still quite instrumental. I listened to it on repeat for the big finale (which lasts for about the last five chapters!) It’s really fast and kicking and I feel it perfectly reflects Arthur’s mindset at the end of the series. He’s not going to let Loki get away anymore. This time, he means business!
One Day Like This – Elbow
When I was writing the final ever chapter of Arthur Quinn, I had this song on repeat in the background. It just fits.
So that’s it! The final reading soundtrack for the final Arthur Quinn book! I hope you enjoyed listening to them as much as I enjoyed writing to them.
If there’s any music that you really like listening to while reading the books, let me know. I’d love to get some more suggestions!!
Recently a group of girls in my hometown of Mohill set up their own Jacqueline Wilson Girls Book Club. The boys wanted their own so an enterprising bunch established the Boys Book Club and they named it after yours truly!
I can’t stress how honored I was when I heard and I was of course delighted when the librarian Aoife invited me to speak. So I met both clubs today – (the girls also wanted to come along) – and I had a wonderful time. I gave them a sneak peek of Arthur Quinn and Hell’s Keeper and at the end, club founder Scott presented me with an application form. I promptly filled it out (co signed by a parent of course!) and am now an honorary member of a book club bad named after me. Which is slightly weird but INCREDIBLY COOL.
Thanks to Aoife and all in Mohill library for a fantastic time!