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Ruth Finnegan

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Pearl of the Seas Cover
BOOK REVIEW

Pearl of the Seas

BY Ruth Finnegan • POSTED ON Nov. 17, 2016

A tale for young readers draws on the enchantments of sea travel.

Inspired variously by the Odyssey, William Blake’s cosmologies, Rumi’s poems, and Charles Kingsley’s stories for youngsters, this novel embraces the magic of childhood imagining. Kate and Chris, along with Kate’s loyal dog, Holly, swim and frolic on a summer shore. A ship built from driftwood becomes their vessel: Kate’s the queen and Chris is the Man of Action, the one who saves them both from wind and water. At first, Kate’s fear of sailing the high seas causes her to abandon ship, but a terrible loneliness sets in, and she regrets leaving. The sudden appearance of a magician saves the day; she answers his riddles to regain her berth. In their boat, the Pearl of the Seas, Kate and Chris pilot through treacherous rocks and come ashore in a welcoming kingdom, where they learn a version of the Tower of Babel story, “the very disaster of our world.” In this hybrid book of narrative blended with verse and song, different ways of telling a story may appear on a single page. The King of Names instructs Kate that “for the deep things it is poetry.” Such wise lessons fortify the children, but even happy dreams must end. Their parting gifts include a magic pebble-pearl that rights the broken mast so they may return to the shore of reality and family. Though the Pearl of the Seas may not buoy them to distant lands again, they determine that Black Inked Pearl—the written record of their travels—shall be their legacy. As in the novel for adults, Finnegan’s (Black Inked Pearl, 2015) “fairytale prequel” for younger readers delights in the associative wordplay of sound and sense. A moment of canine joy provides a vivid illustration: “Still in gleeful flightful lightsome delighting delight. Barking, sparking, larking.” A handful of superb black-and-white drawings by Backshall complements the work’s whimsical vision.

Rollicking and wise, this sailing story mixes prose, poetry, and song, offering a special lyrical gift.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9955617-4-8

Page count: 186pp

Publisher: Callender Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

Black Inked Pearl Cover
BOOK REVIEW

Black Inked Pearl

BY Ruth Finnegan • POSTED ON Aug. 6, 2015

The captivating tale of a young woman’s journey to reclaim her lost love.

Early in Finnegan’s debut novel, there’s a gush of confused emotion and panic: “She was too young she was not ready she was afraid she was terrified only fifteen not ready yet she must go now immediate like a brother nice-impossible too young sea too loud storm tangle-hair she was too young now run run run.” Fifteen-year-old Kate is just an ordinary Irish girl, terrible at math, fearful of the nuns in her school. But as Kate points out, she’s part of an epic love story that is continuously unfolding, waiting for her to step in and bring the story to its conclusion. Alongside the roaring Atlantic Ocean, she meets a mysterious young man and falls under his spell. But, frightened by the intensity of their connection, she rejects his ardor and runs from him. Seven years later, however, she feels compelled to find him and reignite their passion. Kate turns to God and finds that she must complete seven tasks to find her beloved, including traveling through Eden and hell. She relives the biblical tale of love and indiscretion in the Garden of Eden as she and her soulmate converse with the infamous snake and contemplate the apple. Before long, though, Kate appears to be on her way back to her Irish village, with traces of her saga standing as testimony that dreams can penetrate reality. Blurring the lines between poetry and prose, dreams and reality, Kate’s tale recalls the archetypal search for love, as the pursuit permeates every thought of Kate’s. Engaging readers with humor and insight, this unique tale is told through lyrical verse: I said it was friendship / but you wanted love / I said that I’d thought of you / when you wanted—above.Kate’s romantic quest calls to mind Paradise Lost and Greek mythology as it weaves together biblical allusions, fantasy, and details of the modern day.

A mythical story of two lovers whose connection transcends space and time.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-94-214616-2

Page count: 322pp

Publisher: Garn Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015