The best supernatural books written by Irish women

Why am I passionate about this?

I was a weird kid. Often accused of ‘thinking too much’, I cut my literary teeth on Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Phillip K Dick, and Shirley Jackson. Raised on their dark milk, I grew up wanting more than hollow scares and mindless eviscerations. Don’t just give me a scary story, give me a scary story that resonates, one that raises a lens to our world, our history, the rules we’re asked to live by. Unsettle me, make me think. Most of all, give me characters worth my precious time. These are the kind of stories I endeavor to write and the ones I most enjoy reading. I hope you enjoy this small selection as much as I have.


I wrote...

Resonance

By Celine Kiernan,

Book cover of Resonance

What is my book about?

Ireland, 1890: two ruthless immortals prowl Dublin’s theatre district. Ancient, pitiless, and caring for none but their own twisted family, they will stop at nothing to maintain their grip on life.

A hardworking seamstress, the young man who loves her, and a penniless American magician soon find themselves ensnared. Trapped in a snowbound country estate, the latest additions to a warped collection, they are nothing to their kidnappers but food, nothing but entertainment. Soon they will be nothing at all. But, miles from home and unlikely to survive, Tina, Joe, and Harry understand that far more is at stake than their own small lives.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Savage Her Reply

Celine Kiernan Why did I love this book?

The Children of Lir is one of Ireland’s best-known myths. Over the years it has been more than a little sanitized, and as a consequence almost entirely relegated to a children’s beloved fairytale. With her rich, poetic prose and unflinching honesty, Deirdre Sullivan brings the story right back into the adult sphere. Her characters emerge, flawed and seething, from the magical fog of myth to hurt and help each other, and to drag the enthralled reader with them through aeons of vengeance, loyalty, and, eventually, peace.

I can’t stress how beautiful this novel is. An epic poem almost, it satisfies my hunger for beautiful prose, and for thematic depth and emotional resonance. If you love gorgeous writing as much as I do, you will love this one.

By Deirdre Sullivan,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Savage Her Reply as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

A dark, feminist retelling of The Children of Lir by the author of the multi-award-winning Tangleweed and Brine

'No-one else writes like Deirdre Sullivan. She is lyrical, poetic and thoroughly intoxicating.' Juno Dawson, author of Wonderland

'Unsettling, haunting, and darkly lyrical, Savage Her Reply is a beautiful thing.' Louise O'Neill, author of After The Silence

A retelling of the favourite Irish fairytale The Children of Lir. Aife marries Lir, a chieftain with four children by his previous wife. Jealous of his affection for his children, the witch Aife turns them into swans for 900 years.

Retold through the voice of…


Book cover of The Boughs Withered: When I Told Them My Dreams

Celine Kiernan Why did I love this book?

Reminiscent of Ray Bradbury at his very finest, this absorbing collection of supernatural tales has it all: fascinating characters, palpable atmosphere, and delicious, chewy plots. McHugh brings the uncanny into the every day, most often through the experiences of women, and often using a distinctly Irish lens. From the Irish countryside, in all its windswept, boggy, or tangled forms, to modern office life, this is a glorious kaleidoscope of experiences that feel real even as the surface of human experience is punctured to expose the void beneath.  Each story in this collection has a lot to offer, and - another thing this writer has in common with Bradbury - you’ll find yourself returning time and again for rereading 

By Maura McHugh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Boughs Withered as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Boughs Withered is the debut collection from accomplished Irish author Maura McHugh. It includes twenty tales - four of them original to the volume - which represent the best strange visions from an award-winning writer of fiction, non-fiction, comic books and plays. Among the featured stories is "Bone Mother", which was adapted into the award-winning stop-motion animated short film by See Creature in Canada.

In her horror and dark fantasy stories, Maura McHugh explores her love of the uncanny, delves into the eerie past, and evokes weird landscapes that might just co-exist with our own.

"These stories [are] made…


Book cover of Things in Jars

Celine Kiernan Why did I love this book?

I adore magic realism and Things in Jars follows the best traditions of the genre. Set in Victorian England, the supernatural and uncanny are seamlessly intertwined with reality. Jess Kidd avoids whimsy, instead, she uses the magical elements to add grit and atmosphere to an already dark story. The characters - both alive and dead - are beautifully drawn. They take in their stride natural floods, supernatural omens, murderous humans, pugnacious ghosts, and lethal mythological creatures as they navigate the intriguing plot. Both characters and setting have lived with me long after reading. I still yearn for a sequel.

By Jess Kidd,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Things in Jars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

London, 1863. Bridie Devine, the finest female detective of her age, is taking on her toughest case yet. Reeling from her last job and with her reputation in tatters, a remarkable puzzle has come her way. Christabel Berwick has been kidnapped. But Christabel is no ordinary child. She is not supposed to exist.

As Bridie fights to recover the stolen child she enters a world of fanatical anatomists, crooked surgeons and mercenary showmen. Anomalies are in fashion, curiosities are the thing, and fortunes are won and lost in the name of entertainment. The public love a spectacle and Christabel may…


Book cover of All the Bad Apples

Celine Kiernan Why did I love this book?

More beautifully written magic realism, with compelling characters and a fascinating plot. Fowley-Doyle uses the obliqueness of the supernatural and the compelling tropes of a mystery story to explore Ireland's troubled history with women and children. There's something of the road trip to this one, with a warm, supportive, found-family providing kindness and companionship to the main character in a story that otherwise might be too bleak to bear. Release yourself to the prose and to the experience, let the book carry you. It’ll be worth the journey.

By Moïra Fowley-Doyle,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All the Bad Apples as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

The stunning new novel about silenced female voices, family secrets and dangerous truths from the author of The Accident Season.

'Exquisite . . . This is a book to hold tightly to your chest' Irish Times

'Lyrical . . . Compelling' Guardian

'Beautiful, visceral . . . A primal scream' Louise O'Neill

'Uncompromising, raw, devastating' Publishers Weekly

'I am in absolute awe of it' Melinda Salisbury

On Deena's seventeenth birthday, the day she finally comes out to her family, her wild and mysterious sister Mandy is seen leaping from a cliff. The family is heartbroken, but not surprised. The women…


Book cover of The Treachery of Beautiful Things

Celine Kiernan Why did I love this book?

Beneath the surface of this beautifully written old-style fairytale there lies a compelling examination of free will. This thematic depth adds a delicious, chewy meat to what is already an enjoyable romantic read. I loved the characters here. Jenny’s repeated struggle to overcome the fairytale roles that are imposed upon her, and the properly dark consequences of failure in the fairy realm, make this an excellent YA romance adventure that's hard to forget.

By Ruth Francis Long,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Treachery of Beautiful Things as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

A darkly compelling mix of romance, fairy tale, and suspense from a new voice in teen fiction

The trees swallowed her brother whole, and Jenny was there to see it. Now seventeen, she revisits the woods where Tom was taken, resolving to say good-bye at last. Instead, she's lured into the trees, where she finds strange and dangerous creatures who seem to consider her the threat. Among them is Jack, mercurial and magnetic, with secrets of his own. Determined to find her brother, with or without Jack's help, Jenny struggles to navigate a faerie world where stunning beauty masks some…


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Luck of the Irish

By Kate Darroch (editor),

Book cover of Luck of the Irish

Kate Darroch Author Of Death in Paris

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Living on Devon's gorgeous coast, I'm melding my lifelong love of reading Cozy Sleuths with my love of writing and years of living in foreign climes to write Travel Cozies. I also have a Vella Heist serial Found Money starting on Vella soon, and a Cozy Spy series They Call Him Gimlet coming out in the Autumn.

Kate's book list on humorous murder mysteries

What is my book about?

Ten Tantalizing Cozy Mysteries to enjoy on Saint Patrick's Day! Sure to make you chuckle and keep you guessing! Plus, the authors' favorite Saint Patrick's Day Recipes.

Have fun curling up with these Cozy stories and a delicious drink, knowing that just by enjoying these tales you are doing good in the world as well - because 100% of book sales proceeds go to a non-profit helping children living in terrible conditions (through the non-profit RAICES Texas). 

Luck of the Irish

By Kate Darroch (editor),

What is this book about?

Ten Tantalising Cozy Mysteries to enjoy on Saint Patrick's Day! Sure to make you chuckle, make you go "aawww", maybe even raise goosebumps,too - or a bump of curiosity! Plus the authors' favorite Saint Patrick's Day Recipes.

Have fun curling up with these Cozy stories and a delicious drink, knowing that just by enjoying these tales you are doing good in the world as well - because 100% of book sales proceeds go to a non-profit helping children living in terrible conditions, RAICEStexas.org


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