More of Carey's magic, first glimpsed in The Mermaids Singing (1998), pours out of this lovely tale of a lonely, long-suffering artist with a special gift and his romance with a spectral visitor.
It isn't exactly a gentle ghost that Oisin entices into his secluded home on a remote Maine island by leaving his door open during the lunar equinox in November. Over the course of days that follow, as things go missing and he has the feeling of being watched, he finds that a child has entered his life. When the haunting takes a new turn and the child ceases to be a ghost, it’s not the girl Oisin was hoping for. At eight, Aisling is much younger than Oisin's twin sister was when she died, leaving him alone with his unhappy parents and his second sight. But before the recluse can come to terms with having a needy, curious, beautiful stranger to care for, he has another shock: Aisling is growing up at an unnatural rate. All winter she plays with the younger son of Oisin's neighbor, but by summer she's a young teenager, able to join with the neighbor’s older nieces on their annual holiday. For both Oisin and Aisling, their months together prompt painful memories. He recalls his sister Nieve, who killed herself in adolescence as the madness marking women in their family became manifest. Aisling remembers her older brother Darragh, who kept her alive during the Irish potato famine that killed the rest of their family, then died of fever beside her on the ship taking them to Canada—the ship that wrecked in the 1840s on the island’s coast, where she died. A greater pain than these memories, however, is the love Aisling and Oisin feel for each other, which burns with greater intensity as her time in human form draws to a close.
Passionate and lyrical, an unlikely tale of love and redemption that works surpassingly well.