Catherine Doyle, The Storm Keeper’s Island, Bloomsbury Publishing, August 2018, 304 pp., RRP $14.99 (pbk), ISBN 9781408896884
When Fionn Boyle and his sister Tara are sent to Arranmore Island to stay with their grandfather, Fionn discovers that there is more to his grandfather, and to the island, than meets the eye. He knows that his father died here, before Fionn was even born, and that his mother can’t bear to set foot on the island. But he soon learns that there is a magic to the island, that there is a centuries-old rivalry buried beneath the island, and that his grandfather is the Storm Keeper. As a new storm brews and the Storm Keeper’s memories begin to fade, Fionn must deal with his own rivalries, uncover the truth about the past, and find his place in the story of Arranmore.
Catherine Doyle has created rich, believable characters and woven them together beautifully. Like most siblings, Fionn and his moody sister Tara are constantly squabbling, but Fionn’s relationship with his grandfather is warm, tender and quick-witted. As his grandfather’s memory fades, Fionn discovers that he can be brave, that he can go on, while still being scared. He learns that the simplest explanation is not always the right one, that things are not always as they seem, especially when it comes to his mother.
This is one of those beautiful, magical children’s books that defies an age-boundary because it will appeal to anyone from newly-independent readers to much older readers. It is both gentle and captivating. Younger readers will enjoy pop-culture references scattered throughout, though they may date the book in years to come. But more importantly, readers will see themselves in the characters and fall into a world, an island, like no other.
The second book in the series will be released mid-2019.
Reviewed by Pamela Ueckerman