Wednesday, 9 January 2013

[Book Review] Transformation

I'll be honest, I wasn't expecting to like this eerie novella by Irish writer, Rab Swannock Fulton. Published by Dark Continents and edited by Nerine Dorman, Transformation tells the tale of a young man named Donnacha, a young dishwasher in Galway who meets an enchanting young woman named Eimir. Much of the first half of the book reads as a romance novel as their relationship deepens, and I was prepared to be put off since romance is not a preferred genre of mine. However, there's a real sense of the supernatural about the whole story, and I felt on tenterhooks throughout, which is essentially what kept me spellbound. Fulton has a beautiful, lyrical style and the haunting quality to the romance kept me wondering what would happen to break the idyll he'd created.

You can't keep the supernatural out for long, and in Donnacha's case, he becomes persecuted by a pooka, a creature from Irish folklore and Welsh mythology. The use of the pooka, as opposed to a more familiar monster or beast, gives Transformation a sharp edge, as Donnacha battles to keep his soul and defeat the evil goat once and for all. The book makes full use of its Galway setting, and the contrast of the gentle romance and horror powers the story in a very visceral way.

Donnacha makes a convincing and likeable narrator, and his motivations are believeable, if a little naive at times. The introduction of the pooka was a masterstroke, since a more conventional creature could have seen the book become a retread of familiar themes, but as it is, the book becomes an original version of a twisted fairy tale, as well as a darker version of more popular paranormal romances - and one that also made me want to conduct further research into Irish folklore. It's a very absorbing and quick read (indeed, I breezed through it in three days) and I'll be very interested to see what Fulton does next.

Four and a half blunt pencils out of five!

You can buy Transformation for the Kindle from Amazon US and Amazon UK. You can also buy it for Kobo and Nook.


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