Bury the Living by Jodi McIsaac is a historical fiction book with a little bit of fantasy.
Nora O’Reilly has a knack for getting into trouble. That’s not good when she lives in Ireland’s Troubles. After losing her family, Nora becomes an Aid worker. Now she is plagued by dreams of a man she has never known. She ends up connecting with the Brigidine Sisters, who venerate Saint Brigid, who was a pagan patron of Ireland long before the Catholic Church, when she was part of the Tuatha Dé Danann. A relic takes Nora back to the Irish Civil War, a much different war than The Troubles. She is trying to help Michael break the curse on him to be immortal until Ireland is free of it’s enemies. This curse is quite the challenge if you know the history of Ireland.
The beginning is 1990, skips to 2005 and then time travels backwards to 1923 amidst the Irish Civil War. This is where the author excels because she doesn’t lose you in the “travel”. We see the violence of present day Belfast and the devastation of the early 1920s. It is important to understand that Ireland has been at war for hundreds of years beginning with the Normans in the late 12th century which marked the beginning of more than 800 years of English rule or involvement. Wars, uprisings, revolutions, rebellions, civil wars, riots and bombings have plagued much of Ireland’s history. We become aware of the sacrifices, decisions, fears and worries of the mothers, daughters, sons and fathers through the lives and eyes of the women Nora meets. I really liked and appreciated this perspective. The portrayal of this time period was vividly done. It was gut retching to read. The research was remarkable and the Historical Note at the end is a must.
It can be difficult to bring together two different time periods and the author needs to expertly weave all the threads of both worlds seamlessly together to create a smooth flowing and flawless story. This was done very well and effortlessly. There were frequent references of present day Ireland going through Nora’s head while she was “living” in 1923.
I received this book from 47North via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.