I'll make no bones about it. This is a brute of a book. I don't often cry at books, but this one made my eyes sting more than once. Despite some tough scenes, you will not want to stop.
Prophet Song is the latest by Paul Lynch, and is the winner of the 2023 Booker Prize.
Set in near-future Dublin, the story is one womans account of a nation slipping into totalitarian rule. Eilish Stack is the mother of four children who first watches her Husband taken into custody. With news and access under control, Eilish tries to hold her family together.
The story is set in and around the suburbs of South Dublin, where I live. Real-life local places bring the story to life. Scenes of suburban destruction, rationing and civil war play out.
Eilish deals with an elderly father, and the survival of herself and her children. The backdrop is militia, explosions and pure survival.
The writing is tight, with almost punctuation free passages that made me anxious. Eilish' emotions are raw and on the surface, and we see the battle for survival on every page.
It's a painful and visceral book, written in a style that heightens the senses. I won't include any more details about the story but it is hard going in places.
The final quarter of the book is super tense, with a resolution that asks questions. How far will Eilish go to protect her loved ones? How far are we away from the situations that require tough choices?