There are a few times in life when being Irish comes in handy. People don’t expect a whole lot from you, really. They think we’re cute little rascals, friendly fun types who won’t dare start a war against you because we prefer complaining to taking action.
I never thought it would be to my benefit to be Irish in terms of free swag!
FAIR WARNING: This is a little spoilery. Exit through the gift shop if you’re wary.
The lovely Leigh Fallon (check out her site, seriously, it’s BEAUTIFUL) DM’d me on twitter a while back and asked me if I’d like an ARC of her book, Carrier of the Mark. You know why? Because she and I have something in common: we’re Irish. Ever since I heard about her book, I’ve been excited about it. Her she is, this Irish author who moved stateside and got published. It didn’t happen as easily as that, I’m sure, but I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: there is no market in Ireland for YA writers. I’ll be going further afield when I am searching for an agent, and it was refreshing to see that Leigh had already paved that way. Cheers, buddy!
Their love was meant to be.
When Megan Rosenberg moves to Ireland, everything in her life seems to fall into place. After growing up in America, she’s surprised to find herself feeling at home in her new school. She connects with a group of friends, and she is instantly drawn to darkly handsome Adam DeRís.
But Megan is about to discover that her feelings for Adam are tied to a fate that was sealed long ago—and that the passion and power that brought them together could be their ultimate destruction.
The first thing that excited me was that the story was set here, in Ireland. Leigh is from Cork, and I’m from Galway, which isn’t exactly close. We’re a good three, four hours away on a wiggly roaded bus trip, but after reading her book, I wanted to brave that journey. Leigh paints such a beautiful picture of Ireland, without doing that THING THAT I HATE of making it all so darn twee and Oirish. There are green fields and horses, but the people are not begorrah-begosh farmers. Progress.
The main character, Megan, is not Irish, which gives a refreshing look at Cork. It’s a good way of having someone explain how to pronounce the Irish names without making it seem forced or needing a pronunciation guide. While I would have liked some more time alone with Megan at the beginning of the book before we were introduced to Adam, I was still so happy with this character.
I’ve talked a lot among my writer friends about the importance of strong female leads in YA novels, whose lives don’t revolve around their boyfriends, and Megan has a lot of the positive elements that I look for in a role model. While she is infatuated with Adam, it doesn’t detract from her day-to-day behaviour. Yes, she thinks he’s dreamy, but she still goes to school and manages to keep up with her classes. Every boy in the story is not in love with her. She talks to her friends and makes time to hang out with them sans-boyfriend. She has a positive, healthy relationship with her father, and makes a concentrated effort to get along with Adam’s family. Yes, he is important, but other things are too. At times, I found their love to be almost too much, but that could be because I am a jaded 20-something, and not a teenager who thinks that love is actually like that.
Also, from a romantic side, I was so relieved to see that there was no love triangle. At least, there isn’t yet. I thought there might be at one stage, but thankfully Leigh found other obstacles for our lovers to overcome, rather than making poor innocent people victims to heartache and despair. I think this is a really important factor that is too often overlooked in YA novels. In love triangles, people get hurt. They’re not as romantic as you think they are.
Megan’s life is linked to Adam’s, but not in a way that makes him seem more Supernatural than she is. She is not his weak arm-candy. Megan has her own power, which is just unearthed in this book. Pun intended: their powers are elemental. I loved how Leigh tied in Irish folklore into this modern story, taking stories that I would have grown up hearing about and bringing them into this century. She respected and honoured the Irish legends and made them her own, which is impressive and tricky to do. In some areas, I found the information a little dense, but Megan was always there to make things easier to understand. As she is learning everything about her new power as the reader is, we’re all on the same discovery together.
I was delighted to see that Leigh is going to be able to write a sequel to Carrier, because it ended at such a high point that I was desperate to see what would happen next. The romance story with Megan and Adam has a very dark cloud lurking overhead, which is one of the great mysteries of the story. I want to know why they ended up in Ireland – really, why, not just the reason they are given – and what will happen with all their elemental power? The fate of the WORLD is in their sweaty, adolescent hands, and I don’t think I’m wrong in thinking that things are going to get a whole lot worse for these kids.
A very refreshing read from Leigh, and I am so grateful that I got to read it before it hit the shelves. I hope she has the very best of luck in her future career.
Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon, available October 4th 2011.