Written by: Katherine Catmull
Published by: Dutton
Release date: January 19th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Magical Realism, Young Adult
Source: Penguin's FirstToRead.com
Buy: B&N, Amazon, Book Depository
Add on: Goodreads
A gorgeously written tale of magic, friendship, and self-discovery set in a dream-like landscape filled with fairies.
After years of living in America, Clare Macleod and her father are returning to Ireland, where they’ll inhabit the house Clare was born in—a house built into a green hillside with a tree for a wall. For Clare, the house is not only full of memories of her mother, but also of a mysterious boy with raven-dark hair and dreamlike nights filled with stars and magic. Clare soon discovers that the boy is as real as the fairy-making magic, and that they’re both in great danger from an ancient foe.
Fast-paced adventure and spellbinding prose combine to weave a tale of love and loyalty in this young adult fantasy.
A Few Thoughts
Honestly, I’m a bit speechless about this book. It wasn’t one I’d heard of before seeing it on Penguin’s First To Read website, but I snagged it there because fairies! Ireland! And then I decided to read it on a whim over my Christmas vacation last month, and once I got into it, I couldn’t stop reading.
I see the word “lyrical” thrown around a lot when describing books with beautiful writing — I think that word is overused, frankly. Beautiful writing isn’t necessarily the same thing as lyrical writing, nor does it need to be. But in the case of The Radiant Road, “lyrical” is the perfect descriptor. The Radiant Road is lyrical like a song. The writing feels like there’s a beautiful melody running along underneath it, that sweeps you into it as if you’re in a dream.
So Clare put fairy-makings into a special category in her thoughts. Of course they were not actually made by fairies (fairies, god, that word), not made by the Strange, obviously she knew that. She knew that: but she never stopped believing in them.
At first, I have to admit, I did find the plot a little slow — it took me a few chapters to really get a feel for what this book was and where it was going. But then I fell into the gorgeous writing and was completely swept away. The Radiant Road has an incredible feel to it — it’s set in modern times, but it feels like an old fairy story, and for some reason those two things didn’t clash at all.
“Why do people here call fairies ‘the Good People’?”
“Ah well . . . We say it the same way that if you see a great dog, a large and powerful one, whose tail is not necessarily wagging—then you say, ‘Good dog, good dog.'”
The plot is sort of spoilery to explain in full, because it takes a little while to get started and I don’t want to spoil things that are too far into the book. But more than that, Clare’s character arc is one thing that kept me glued to this book, on top of the gorgeous writing. This is a journey of discovery for Clare — rediscovering the truth of her childhood, discovering things about herself, trying to figure out how to be herself, who she wants to be and what she wants to do. It’s all wrapped up in fairy magic and adventures and good and evil, but it’s essentially a story of self-acceptance. At least, that’s how I read it. It’s got so many layers, but that was one I connected with the most.
Actually, The Radiant Road reminded me a bit of the feeling I got while reading Uprooted — that might be a misleading comparison because this book is nothing like Uprooted… The two books are very different in plot; and there’s no actual romance to speak of, though there seems to be the beginnings of one. But the feel of this book, the magic… those had a very similar feeling to me.
I cried when I finished reading this book. (Well, okay, I got VERY teary, but just give me this one. 😉) I don’t know what it was — the ending wasn’t sad, but when it was over, I just… didn’t want it to be. It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a book this much based largely on incredibly writing, and the feeling of reading this book was one I really enjoyed. If you’re in the mood for a book that will effortlessly sweep you into its world with gorgeous prose, an old-timey fairy-tale feel, and a story that will make you believe in magic, you need to pick up The Radiant Road.