The Blood Miracles

Lisa McInerney

The Blood Miracles
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The Blood Miracles

Lisa McInerney

Like all twenty-year-olds, Ryan Cusack is trying to get his head around who he is. This is not a good time for his boss to exploit his dual heritage by opening a new black market route from Italy to Ireland. It is certainly not a good time for his adored girlfriend to decide he’s irreparably corrupted. And he really wishes he hadn’t accidentally caught the eye of an ornery grandmother who fancies herself his saviour.

There may be a way clear of the chaos in the business proposals of music promoter Colm and in the attention of the charming, impulsive Natalie. But now that his boss’s ambitions have rattled the city, Ryan is about to find out what he’s made of, and it might be that chaos is in his blood.

Review

At their worst, literary sequels risk stretching a story beyond its boundaries. At their best, they give readers (and authors) the opportunity to revisit characters and settings that have already captured their imaginations. This sequel, the follow-up tothe absolutely brilliant, Bailey’s prize-winning novel The Glorious Heresies, thankfully makes all the right moves. In The Blood Miracles, I found everything sequels should have. It offers an expansion of a world – Cork’s dangerous underground – that feels natural and believable. It revisits storylines from the previous book only fleetingly, instead focusing on new storylines and relationships. But most importantly, it offers satisfying character development.

Ryan Cusack is making the same mistakes he always has. Only now, at the age of 20, the consequences of his actions are more serious. Ryan has moved up, from being a small-time dealer to a translator for Dan Kane, one of the more frightening figures of the Cork underworld. Dan plans to bring high-quality ecstasy from Naples to Ireland, and Ryan, with his Italo-Irish parentage, is a convenient right-hand man. When the first shipment of drugs is taken in a heist, things begin to spin out of control, and Ryan’s long-time loyalty to Dan is questioned.

While this is a tale full of guns, pills and powder, there is more to The Blood Miracles than your usual gangster romp. Ryan’s struggle to define the tender, creative half of his identity in the harsh world of his chosen profession is beautifully articulated. This book is punctuated with letters penned by Ryan to his late mother; they are, at times, heartbreaking. Lisa McInerney’s ability to capture the conflicting internal and external voices of 20-year-old Ryan is uncanny.

This is a wonderfully fast-paced novel that pairs gangland exploits with the complex and textured prose style of contemporary Irish fiction.


Ellen Cregen works as a bookseller at Readings Doncaster.

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