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Blog Tour Review - The Only Way Out is Death by Varun Gwalani

 Blog Tour Review - The Only Way Out is Death by Varun Gwalani Twelve powerful people are kidnapped and imprisoned in an empty hotel. Each one of them has three choices: Live out the rest of their days peacefully in the hotel, Die by suicide so the rest of their companions can go free, Or murder one of their companions so they alone can go free. The Only Way Out is Death follows the story of these twelve people from the perspective of a young lawyer, Kiriaki, told as the events unfold. She has to forge messy alliances, navigate complex relationships and feuds, and, above all, try to stay alive. Meanwhile, the mastermind of this death game is lurking just out of view, watching them closely, making sure they are primed for murder. Will Kiriaki find the mastermind before it's too late for her? Will she outmanoeuvre the cutthroats before they cut her throat? There are twelve selfish lives in the hotel. Will it end in twelve selfish deaths? The Only Way Out is Death is a fascinating nov

Review - The Silver Road by Sinéad O’Hart

 Review - The Silver Road by Sinéad O’Hart

The seandraiocht - the Old Magic - isn't remembered like it once was. Its power is fading...

When Rose is entrusted with a powerful stone by a Frost Giant, she is swept into an adventure full of danger. The stone can be used for great good or great evil, depending on its keeper. It leads Rose to discover the magic that runs through all of Ireland. A magic that is threaded together beneath the land: the Silver Road. But the Silver Road is under threat.

Now Rose must keep the stone from falling into the wrong hands and embark on a quest to find its rightful owner and keep the magic alive . . .

This stunning cover was designed by Dominica Clements with art by Manuel Šumberac

Well, it's finally happened. The Eye of the North has been replaced as my favourite book.

I always knew it would take something really quite special to win that place in my heart, and The Silver Road is the one. It's an extraordinary story full of magic and wonder and heart.

Now, before we continue, I'd like to take a moment to clear up some debate that was on Twitter X this morning. It doesn't matter what Rachel Delahaye says, I'm Sinéad's biggest fan. And as soon as I heard about The Silver Road, there was something about it that just sounded special, but my high expectations were still absolutely blown away by what I read when I got a review copy.

So what makes it so special? This story has the feel of a story that has been waiting for the right time for it to be told, by the right storyteller. Yes, I absolutely adore Sinéad's debut novel, The Eye of the North, but this isn't a story that a debut novelist could have told. There's such richness, complexity and depth here that it needed to wait until Sinéad had a few novels under her belt, it had to wait while she learnt her craft, developing magical worlds with The Eye of the North and The Star-Spun Web, weaving in comtemporary settings with The Time Tider, and then bringing all of that experience together to create The Silver Road. 

I can feel so many of the influences Sinéad has talked about on her Storyshaped Podcast. (If you haven't heard her waxing lyrical about Alan Garner's Elidor, please go check that episode out, and then all of the others!) Alan Garner's influence runs deep here, as, like Elidor, The Silver Road is a story about magic from another world seeping into ours. It's not really a portal to another, magical world story so much as a Garneresque barriers breaking down story. Pat O'Shea, who's The Hounds of the Morrigan was a blend of the domestic and the ancient Celtic magic, feels like another significant building block. 

This isn't to say that it isn't original, because it is, there's a new, powerful story in here, but one that knows and loves the older tales. Because that's the magic of stories. We take what came before and we look at it in new ways and we tell the tales of old in our own voices. And that's exactly what The Silver Road does. It even adds new Celtic heroes into the mix, with the Mac Tire fitting in perfectly alongside longer established figures like Cethlenn and Balor. And that's the thing about the oral tradition, that's what it was, people shaping stories, realigning them, adding new parts that fit and taking parts out that no longer worked. 

It's a quintessentially Irish book too. It's a book about old Ireland and it's a book about new Ireland, and it's a book about how they can sometimes clash, how they can have their differences, but also about how intricately woven together the two still are. Ireland is a land where the magic and the mythology is still just below the surface, never forgotten though occasionally built over. Alan Garner couldn't have written this. Sinéad O’Hart did, and I'm glad. it's so uniquely hers, so steeped in the magic of Ireland, and the charm of its people and its language and its mythology.

It's full of magic and mythology, but one of the things I loved most about The Silver Road were actually the more grounded, domestic scenes. There's one where Rose, the central character, this young girl who chooses to be a chosen one, is sitting at the dinner table. She's in trouble with her mam and waiting for her dad to get home. Her twin brothers are grizzling away and she's anxiously waiting for this telling off that she knows has been coming for days. It really captures the real life struggles that Rose is going through and contrasts them beautifully with the wonder and awe of the magic now entering her life. 

And there's Gracie and Nellie, the mysterious, comforting heart of the story. Their kitchen is one of those places I just wish was real, and that I could sit there for an hour and listen to them. 

The Silver Road.  It's exceptional. A masterpiece. It feels like this is the story Sinéad has been waiting I don't know how long to tell. It feels like a story only she could tell. It feels like my new favourite story.


The Silver Road by Sinéad O'Hart is out now from Piccadilly Press. 

I was given a review copy in return for an honest review.


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