Thursday, February 10, 2011

In the Country of the Young

After I finished reading this, I wasn't sure if I was going to cry or cheer. I was reading a UF book and put it down for this and going back to it immediately after felt kind of irreverent. This is not meant to be a slight against Zoe Archer because I'm really enjoying Scoundrel, but the tone of the 2 books is so vastly different that I'm torn. Which is weird because In the Country of the Young is essentially a ghost story with boners and Scoundrel is a magic story with boners. So, superficially they aren't really that different.

In the Country of the Young is set on a fictional island off the coast of Maine called Tiranogue. More than a century ago, an Irish emigrant shipped wrecked off the coast of this island. Amongst many others, a very young girl died unnoticed and alone. In the present, Oisin MacDara is an artist known for romancing the local ladies (seducing is a better descriptor but it has some negative connotations that I don't like) and being a weird recluse. One day he notices that he is being visited by a ghost (the ghost of the young girl who died, this is established very early and takes nothing away from the suspense of the story, shut up). Oisin had the second sight as a young child so being haunted is not alarming to him. His notice of Aisling somehow enables her to become corporeal and she basically moves herself in. As she continues to live with him, both of them are changed and touched in ways that neither can predict.

The story is beautifully written, disturbing, sometimes uncomfortable, impossibly sad, and incredibly hopeful. The story moves back and forth through present time and past recollections and each aspect of their past flavors their interactions with each other and the secondary characters. Oisin's twin sister died when they were young and his longing for her seems palpable. Aisling's brother died on the trip from Ireland and her memories show him as the only person in her world who cared for her. Each time parts of their individual history are revealed, the relationship between Oisin and Aisling seems to rebuild itself from the ground up. And while there is a fair amount of sex in the book, it never seems to be there just to titillate. Sex is just part of the way Oisin learned to interact with the world. And it's descriptive, but not graphic.

So yeah, read it, it's weird and beautiful (and short).

No comments:

Post a Comment