THE PLOVER by Brian Doyle
Kirkus Star


Email this review


Doyle (Mink River, 2010, etc.) sets off with Declan O'Donnell, he of "flinty soul" and "salty confidence," sailing along the 45th parallel across the wide Pacific.

In near stream of consciousness, wave upon wave of words tumbles out in long, beautifully rendered, description-packed sentences, running on and on, as Declan, captain of the Plover, "a roomy coffin," skims across water two miles deep and weighing "about eighty quintillion tons." The narrative is rife with allusions, symbolism and metaphor, as Declan first encounters the Tanets, a tramp freighter/pirate ship/smuggler captained by amoral Enrique. Declan next tires of 45th parallel weather, bears south and finds an isolated island. There, he's met by his Oregon friend, Piko, who knew Declan would stop there, even if Declan did not. Beloved wife dead of cancer, Piko boards the Plover with Pipa, his brain-injured, paralyzed daughter, who’s still "sending her large spirit out exploring in ways and realms she has not yet tried to explain." Pipa chirps, whistles and peeps, and birds flock to the little boat. The Plover is again stopped at sea by the Tanets. Enrique needs a navigator and shanghais Piko. Declan follows, rescues Piko, and then finds that Enrique’s mysterious, giant, androgynous crewman, Taromauri, has slipped aboard the Plover. Taromauri is searching for her sea-swallowed daughter. Shadowed by a single gull, "one of the of the shining ones," a spirit of life’s energy focusing on Pipa, the Plover’s crew gains a boy from northern forests; Tungaru is "minister for fisheries and marine resources and foreign affairs," exiled because of his utopian politics. After a fiery confrontation with the Tanets, Declan and company sail "[f]ree as air" on "[t]he continent of the sea."

A rare and unusual book and a brilliant, mystical exploration of the human spirit.

Pub Date: April 8th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-250-03477-9
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2014


FictionCHICAGO by Brian Doyle
by Brian Doyle
MysteryFROM BRUGES WITH LOVE by Pieter Aspe
by Pieter Aspe
MysteryTHE MIDAS MURDERS by Pieter Aspe
by Pieter Aspe
FictionMINK RIVER by Brian Doyle
by Brian Doyle


FictionTHE BULLY OF ORDER by Brian Hart
by Brian Hart
FictionLANDFALLS by Naomi J. Williams
by Naomi J. Williams
FictionTHE WOLF BORDER by Sarah Hall
by Sarah Hall
FictionTHE KINGS AND QUEENS OF ROAM by Daniel Wallace
by Daniel Wallace