I can honestly say this book is unlike any I've ever read before. The plot is so bizarre and there is so much that writer Oisìn McGann packs into its 440 pages that it just shouldn't work but it so does at such break neck speed that you'll finish reading it long before you're ready for the story to end.
Set in the 1900's the story centres on Nate Wildenstern, a privileged teenager born into the wealthiest and biggest land owning Irish family. Unfortunately they are also reviled by their tenants, the British government and most importantly each other; the Wildenstern tradition being that the murder of the family patriarch or heir is perfectly acceptable but only when it is to further your own position within the family, and although this hasn't happened for sometime when Nate's eldest brother, and current heir, dies in a convenient mountaineering accident Nate returns from his travels in Africa to find out the truth about his brother's death. Nate soon becomes suspect No.1 although running the family business is the last thing Nate wants to spend his life doing. His passion lies in the study and occasional trapping of Engimals a curious race of living engine powered machines; from lawn mowers to juggernaughts, these creatures defy all the laws of nature as they are composed of metal and al the usual components but are indeed living, if not breathing in the conventional sense of the word. If that wasn't enough material to fill a story of exciting adventure there is also an attempt to rob the family that gets mistaken as a terrorist plot and three bodies that are accidentally exhumed from the bog land that has preserved them for some 600 years. Did I mention the family also have a peculiar ability to heal otherwise lethal injuries with gold and are immune to most poisons due to their unique physiology? Oh and the 600 year old bodies aren't quite as dead as they appear?
What do you mean is that all?!!
There is also a curious sub-plot regarding Nate's older brother Roberto, which if I'm honest does nothing for the story as a whole and is left without conclusion in the end anyway so I'm a little puzzled as to it's inclusion, which I think is a shame because it relates, albeit briefly, to the subject of homosexuality and how it was viewed in the 1900's, but this may make some parents may feel that book may not be suitable for their younger teens.
Very funny in places and good and gory in others I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it to any mature teenager who like's their books to offer more than the usual formulaic fodder out there.
Oisin McGann obviously has the gift of the gab for telling a tale or two, lets just hope he gets to reach as wide an audience as he deserves.
Review by Floresiensis
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