About the book: (from the publisher) Along the windswept coast of Ireland, a woman discovers the landscape of her own heart.
When Annie Crowe travels from Seattle to a small Irish village to promote a new copper mine, her public relations career is hanging in the balance. Struggling to overcome her troubled past and a failing marriage, Annie is eager for a chance to rebuild her life.
Yet when she arrives on the remote Beara Peninsula, Annie learns that the mine would encroach on the nesting ground of an endangered bird, the Red-billed Chough, and many in the community are fiercely protective of this wild place. Among them is Daniel Savage, a local artist battling demons of his own, who has been recruited to help block the mine.
Despite their differences, Annie and Daniel find themselves drawn toward each other, and, inexplicably, they begin to hear the same voice–a strange, distant whisper of Gaelic, like sorrow blowing in the wind.
Guided by ancient mythology and challenged by modern problems, Annie must confront the half-truths she has been sent to spread and the lies she has been telling herself. Most of all, she must open her heart to the healing power of this rugged land and its people.
Beautifully crafted with environmental themes, a lyrical Irish setting, and a touch of magical realism, The Crows of Beara is a breathtaking novel of how the nature of place encompasses everything that we are.
About the author: Julie Christine Johnson’s short stories and essays have appeared in journals including Emerge Literary Journal, Mud Season Review, Cirque: A Literary Journal of the North Pacific Rim, Cobalt, and River Poets Journal; in the print anthologies Stories for Sendai; Up, Do: Flash Fiction by Women Writers; and Three Minus One: Stories of Love and Loss; and have been featured on the flash fiction podcast No Extra Words. She holds undergraduate degrees in French and psychology and a master’s in international affairs. Named a “standout debut” by Library Journal, “very highly recommended” by Historical Novels Review, and “delicate and haunting, romantic and mystical” by bestselling author Greer Macallister, Julie’s debut novel In Another Life (Sourcebooks) went into a second printing three days after its February 2016 release. A hiker, yogi, and swimmer, Julie makes her home in northwest Washington state.
Genre: Fiction/Women’s FictionLush novel of Ireland weaves romance with realism @JulieChristineJ Click To Tweet
My take: This unusual novel offers a marriage of lyrical prose with magical realism, both of which prove ideal for its mystical, Irish setting.
Annie has problems — and has made choices — that are difficult to warm to, but she is not an unsympathetic character. I appreciated the way Daniel’s narrative provided a counterbalance to her own, completing the picture of who she was. It reminded me that we all need someone to see the best in us, not only our flaws.
While ambitious in the ground it covers, Julie Christine Johnson handles every aspect of The Crows of Beara with a deft touch, demonstrating her mastery as she weaves the heartbeat of romance alongside a purposeful message. While its darker tone may not appeal to every romance reader, it’s impossible not to recognize here the work of a gifted writer.
Thanks to Ashland Creek Press and the author for providing me this book free of charge. All opinions are mine.
After words: I’m always drawn to novels set in Ireland. How about you?