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The Island Child Reviews

The Island Child by Molly Aitken

The Island Child

Molly Aitken

Score pending

2 reviews

Imprint: Canongate Books Ltd
Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd
Publication date: 30 Jan 2020
ISBN: 9781786898333

A rich, haunting and deeply moving novel about the power and the danger in a mother's love, from one of the most exciting new voices in Irish fiction

4 stars out of 5
8 Feb 2020

"Aitken takes it right to the line, and no further – that is a real skill"

We end up galloping through decades, tripping on crisis after crisis. Oona’s psychology is vivid throughout, as is her mother’s; but the other characters are flat and roughly sketched. As a result, it’s difficult to care when any of these characters meet their demise, as several do. The joy of this book, though, is in Aitken’s prose, which is exquisite. We hear “the shuck and shush” of the waves, feel “a storm prickle in the air”. She writes with particular power when her characters are in extremis, “my mind was all a-wander, unfixed, unfixing. The sky and sea were boiling… clouds rolled in to eat the blue behind us”.


4 stars out of 5
Sarah Gilmartin
1 Feb 2020

"The success of the book is the vibrancy of its writing and narrative voice"

Her debut novel shows her interest in myth and folklore. Italicised passages at the end of sections bring an otherworldly feel to the book. Back in the real world, narrator Oona is a wonderful creation, alive on the page – a character with a hard life but who also brings many of the misfortunes on herself. In this, she recalls Liz Nugent’s charismatic protagonist Delia in Skin Deep. There are also echoes of Bernie McGill’s The Watch House. All three novels excel at depicting the hermetic communities and liminal landscapes of island life.