Mr B's review
Cillian owes a serious stack of money to the leading drug dealer in this windswept corner of Ireland. When he doesn’t pay up, the Ferdias, a pair of goons never far from shows of hospitality or violence, grab his brother Doll off the street and hold him captive in a secluded farmhouse. The house is owned by Dev, a huge lump of a man. Back at school Dev was the punchbag for the likes of the Ferdias. And into all this are thrown Sheila, Cillian and Doll’s mother, and Doll’s girl, Nicky, who must hatch a plan to get the boy home in one piece.
A riot of dialogue that sings off the page is what sets Colin Barrett’s work alight. It would be easy to cast this as a story of crime and violence, but that would be lazy and shallow. Wild Houses is, at its heart, a look at the limits of familial obligation, and the ties that bind in small towns. Like the great Irish writers that have gone before him – Kevin Barry, Lisa McInerney and Roddy Doyle, amongst others – Barrett has the goods to be a huge force in contemporary fiction for years to come. (Tom M)
**One of the Observer’s Debut Novels of 2024**
A small-town feud. A madcap kidnapping. A wild weekend to change everybody’s lives…
‘Sublime… [Wild Houses is] a thrillingly moreish novel… and held me captive until the very last page’ Sunday Times
‘Strange and beautiful… A book to live inside’ SALLY ROONEY, author of Normal People
‘A gift of true storytelling… Barrett’s talent burns up the page’ ANNE ENRIGHT, author of The Wren, The Wren
As Ballina prepares for its biggest weekend of the year, the simmering feud between small-time drug-dealer, Cillian English, and County Mayo’s enforcers, Gabe and Sketch Ferdia, spills over into violence and an ugly ultimatum.
When the reclusive Dev answers his door on Friday night he finds Doll – Cillian’s teenage brother – in the clutches of Gabe and Sketch. Jostled by his nefarious cousins and goaded by his dead mother’s dog, Dev is drawn headlong into the Ferdias’ revenge fantasy.
Meanwhile, seventeen-year-old Nicky can’t shake the feeling something bad has happened to her boyfriend Doll. Hungover, reeling from a fractious Friday night and plagued by ghosts of her own, Nicky sets out on a feverish mission to save Doll, even as she questions her future in Ballina.
‘This nastily slow-burn chiller is shaping up to be one of the novels of the year’ Daily Mail, **Books to Look Out For 2024**
This strange and beautiful novel brings to life an entire world. Wild Houses is a book not just to read but to live inside — Sally Rooney, author of Normal People Colin Barrett quietly, insistently, writes so deeply into his characters you could reach out and touch them. Wild Houses is a gift of true storytelling and Barrett’s talent burns up the page — Anne Enright, author of The Wren, The Wren Vivid, controlled, very funny, and very moving – Barrett has the kind of pure writing chops that are vanishingly rare — Kevin Barry, author of Night Boat to Tangier Wild Houses is a wonder of a novel – crackling with tension and gifted with fine, strong language. Colin Barrett is a superb storyteller, and this is a tale for the ages — Jon McGregor, author of Reservoir 13 Few people truly understand the deep tensions, traumas and banality of violence that can be found in small town life quite like Colin Barrett. Crime and the characters who commit it is his forte, but his writing is never less than masterful, and he sits squarely in the centre of a golden generation of new Irish writers — Benjamin Myers, author of Cuddy and The Gallow Pole Colin Barrett proved with his short stories that he’s not only one of the most stylistically gifted writers working now, but also one of the most generous. His first novel, Wild Houses, is deft, intricate, unique – restorative in its refusal to be anything but itself. Colin Barrett is a talent of the rarest kind — Nicole Flattery, author of Nothing Special A brilliant novel… Wild Houses is swift, tender and honest. It’s been a long time since I’ve been so worried, so heartbroken, so moved by a set of funny misfits. Barrett is one of our keenest observers of the miraculous amid the everyday and of the uncommon beauty of common things, the power of attention. When I finished this novel, I desperately wanted to call Dev, Doll, or Nicky, just to see if they were okay, to see if everything had turned out alright. — Brandon Taylor, author of The Late Americans Vivid and wild, funny and chilling – Wild Houses is the business — Roddy Doyle, author of Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha Wild Houses has a rare momentum that comes from the rhythms of the sentences, the vivid descriptions and the brilliantly chosen details. The momentum emerges also from the depth and complexity of the main characters and the wide sweep of the narrative. In a small town in the west of Ireland over a few days, a whole world, memorable and edgy, is captured for the reader — Colm Toibin, author of Brooklyn Wild Houses is a taut, brooding thunderstorm of a novel — Ronan Hession, author of Leonard and Hungry Paul
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