Banshee Rising

‘Banshee Rising’. Currach Press, 2021.

Caitlyn McCabe can see ghosts. And lots of them. She does not know where this gift (or curse) comes from. She does not know where she gets her double-coloured eyes from either, or who her mother is, her father having died when she was still a child. If this wasn’t overwhelming enough, she is also trying to navigate her young adult life, being bullied at school and considered a freak, except by young Danny, who is as out of the ordinary as she is (for different reasons).

Until, one day, a momentous encounter changes everything. Professor Sackimum Brody, a former colleague of her dad, takes her under his wing and introduces her to the multiple spirit realms hiding within the streets of Dublin, realms that are running much deeper that she could ever imagine. Professor Brody appears to know a lot about her family history too, a history that will gradually unravel as he guides her through the discovery of her true identity and mastery of her still unexpressed power. Straightforward plot of a classic Bildungsroman (with just a sprinkle of supernatural), right? Wrong!

Brace yourselves, dearest readers, for an adventure like no other, a perfectly constructed (under)world where three different realms overlap – humans above ground, spirits in the middle and a third concealed one,  inhabited by the darkest, relentlessly evil creatures, who won’t give up until they conquer all, unafraid to leave destruction behind them. In all this, will our heroine Caitlyn be able to embrace her destiny and who she really is, as hard truths unfold in front of her? 

From the first pages of ‘Banshee Rising’, I knew I was about to experience a great read, the seamless prose and richness of language embracing me from the very first lines; I just could not envisage fully how gripping this book would be. Riley Cain shows great ability in building up the narration slowly and patiently, crafting every single character, setting and scene to perfection, leading to a much awaited, final battle between Good and Evil. More specifically, the way he holds our hand and takes us through Caitlyn’s transformation from apprentice to leader is impressive, as is the cohort of supporting characters Cain has created to aid her in her quest, everything so vividly and masterfully described it is almost hard to believe. 

I loved the fact that this book is as much a work of fantasy as a celebration of Irish mythology and folklore, and a ‘crash course’ for those who do not know anything about it (I must admit I had to consult the Internet a number of times to gain a better understanding of the mythological figures described). The most frustrating part as far as I am concerned – and it doesn’t have anything to do with Cain’s writing – was not having enough time in a day to read it all at once. ‘Banshee Rising’ is a book that deserves your undivided attention, best read in one or two sittings on quiet days, as this story will swallow you whole – I guarantee you won’t be able to think about anything else.

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