Review: Red Sky In The Morning by Paul Lynch

Title: Red Sky in Morning
Author: Paul Lynch
Publication Date: November 5th, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 288
ISBN13: 978-0316230254
Source: ARC from Publisher

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
A tense, thrilling debut novel that spans two continents, from "a writer to watch out for" (Colum McCann).

It's 1832 and Coll Coyle has killed the wrong man. The dead man's father is an expert tracker and ruthless killer with a single-minded focus on vengeance. The hunt leads from the windswept bogs of County Donegal, across the Atlantic to the choleric work camps of the Pennsylvania railroad, where both men will find their fates in the hardship and rough country of the fledgling United States.

Language and landscape combine powerfully in this tense exploration of life and death, parts of which are based on historical events. With lyrical prose balancing the stark realities of the hunter and the hunted, RED SKY IN MORNING is a visceral and meditative novel that marks the debut of a stunning new talent.

Paul Lynch is the author of the critically lauded Irish novels RED SKY IN MORNING — currently nominated for France’s best foreign book prize, le Prix du meilleur livre ├ętranger — and THE BLACK SNOW, and has been hailed as a major new writer by authors such as Sebastian Barry, Colum McCann and Daniel Woodrell.
After a six-publisher bidding war, his debut novel RED SKY IN MORNING was published to critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic in 2013. It was an Amazon.com Book of the Month, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick, a Huffington Post book of the week and The Daily Beast’s Hot Read. It was featured on NPR’s All Things Considered, where Lynch was hailed as “a lapidary young master”. It was a book of the year in The Irish Times, The Toronto Star, the Irish Independent and the Sunday Business Post.

His second novel THE BLACK SNOW was published this spring in the UK and Ireland. It was hailed as “masterful” and “a significant achievement” by The Sunday Times, “dazzling” by The Sunday Business Post and “powerful” by the Irish Times, which praised his ability to “reinvent the English language”. It will be published in America by Little, Brown in Spring 2015. RED SKY IN MORNING was published in the French (Un ciel rouge, le matin) in March 2014 by Albin Michel to massive critical acclaim.

Paul was born in Limerick in 1977, grew up in Donegal, and is now living in Dublin. He was the chief film critic of Ireland’s Sunday Tribune newspaper from 2007 to 2011, when the newspaper folded. He has written regularly for many Irish newspapers and has written regularly for The Sunday Times on film.

      Red Sky In Morning is a very unique book. It was originally written by the author because he was inspired by a story he watched a documentary on involving an event that happened in Pennsylvania in 1832. It was about 57 Irish railroad workers who were killed (most likely murdered, it is unknown) and how their deaths were covered up. This book is not for the faint of heart. It is very bleak, and it is not necessarily an easy read.

      The book is separated into 3 parts. The first and last move pretty quickly, but the middle section slowed the pace a bit. The style of writing is definitely an acquired one. If you are well-read in the likes of Cormac McCarthy or Daniel Woodrell, then Paul Lynch's way of storytelling should not phase you. It is not an easy ready if you are not. Lynch uses a sophisticated way of writing, but also excludes quotations to separate dialogue from the rest of the text. This takes some getting used to.

     The story itself is incredibly well done. Lynch is definitely a budding author entering the scene with something unique and fresh to offer. Red Sky In Morning was definitely different from what I normally read, but I still found it interesting, and especially once I discovered what truly inspired the story, then my level of interest went up a couple notches.

     So why the 3 star rating? First, I think this book is potentially a great book. Do I think it could be better? Yes. But it does serve well as it is. I think the biggest thing that irked me about this book is misuse of the 'F-word.' Normally I can tolerate swearing in a book if it's strategically placed to show how a person or situation would actually be, or if it reflects the environment of a character. However, if this book takes place in 1832, then the 'F-word" would have still mostly been used for its sole purpose. However, the author uses it here as a derogatory term mixed between old language and it was incredibly unsettling. I felt jolted, because I knew right away it was misplaced. It did not become a derogatory term until the early 90s. Aside from this, I thought the book was great. This just seemed a very big deal to me while I was reading it.

     If you are a Cormac McCarthy fan, then you will love this book. It has mystery, betrayal, incest, murder, and all the other markings of a brooding historical suspense novel. It definitely is a new work of art, and I look forward to seeing more from Paul Lynch.

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