Irish Noir: ‘The Blood Miracles’ by Lisa McInerney


Around this time list year, I was waxing lyrical about McInerney’s perfectly titled debut novel ‘The Glorious Heresies.’  The book rightly won the 2016 Baileys Prize and now its sequel, ‘The Blood Miracles’, has come out just in time to be read before I jump into my 2017 shortlist readings.

‘The Glorious Heresies’ was a madcap and surprisingly poignant romp through Cork’s squalid underlife.  Amongst the mayhem of plot lines and numerous protagonists, it was grounded by the coming of age story of young Ryan Cusack.  Caught up in the madness of everything around him, Ryan’s attempts to grow up and find his place in the world were highlights in an already dazzling debut.

‘The Blood Miracles’ picks up Ryan’s story a few years later.  He’s now in his twenties and, poor soul, has benefitted little from the passing of time.  Potentially suicidal and consistently self-destructive, Ryan works as an enforcer, translator, seller and surrogate son for a small-time crime lord who wants to expand his operations.  His secret talents for music, languages and tenderness that shone through ‘The Glorious Heresies’ have become bitter obsessions, constantly returned to as Ryan tries to reconcile his depressed present with his promising past.

Previous events are referred to throughout ‘The Blood Miracles’, but don’t be mislead, McInerney has produced a very different book for her second novel.  ‘The Glorious Heresies’ was a frenetic view of a city with a past that was catching up with it and a present that was swirling out of control.  Despite references to previous events, ‘The Blood Miracles’ exists in a different world, a different genre.  Instead of being a novel of the city with moments of laugh-out-loud comedy and heart-rending pathos, it’s a tangled crime story about drug dealers, their multiple girlfriends and their confused loyalties.  There are double-crossings, stunning coincidences, exotic locations, madonnas, whores and lots of drug and nightclub scenes.  The characters are depressingly realistic, but evoked without the sparkle and humour I had been looking forward to.  As this review shows, I’m still actually far more interested in ‘The Glorious Heresies’ than in its sequel; it’s frustrating to find yourself constantly wanting to re-read an earlier book by an author when you’re trying to enjoy the new one.

I’m intrigued to see what McInerney writes next.  I’m hoping of course for a return to the shocking splendour of ‘The Glorious Heresies, but ‘The Blood Miracles’ has shown that she has a interest in other genres – and also that she can write books extremely quickly.  Who knows, there may be another Cork-set Women’s Prize contender in 2018…

 I received my copy of ‘The Blood Miracles’ from the publisher via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

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9 Responses to Irish Noir: ‘The Blood Miracles’ by Lisa McInerney

  1. Sarah says:

    I’m just about to start The Glorious Heresies which looks fantastic, so I’m making a note to myself to reread this post when I’ve finished so I can continue the experience if I need to ( and if the rave reviews are anything to go by, I certainly will!)

    • ‘The Glorious Heresies’ is just wonderful. I ended up re-reading sections of it when writing this review and can confirm it is every bit as fantastic as I thought last year 🙂 Just hoping I haven’t built it up too much … looking forward to your review

  2. Interesting – like you, I loved The Glorious Heresies. I’m intrigued to read this but sorry the humour has gone. I think the cover’s great – really dramatic!

    • I had such hight hopes for ‘The Blood Miracles’ and it isn’t without humour, but ‘The Glorious Heresies’ had me laughing out loud so often and so unexpectedly. The tone of this sequel is very different and, for me, much less affecting.

  3. BookerTalk says:

    Im sorry to hear this was missing some of the elements that made The Glorious Heresies to remarkable. It was such a fresh voice that I was hoping she could sustain it for subsequent books.

    • I still have hope for future books! ‘The Glorious Heresies’ was so accomplished I’m still expecting great things for subsequent books, though I can’t deny this sequel did not live up my extremely high expectations…

  4. Stefanie says:

    I haven’t read Glorious Heresies yet! I feel like I am missing out. Must figure out a way to get to it. As good as the second might be it would be really hard to write something as good as the first, so much pressure. Maybe now the pressure is off a bit the next book, whatever she does, will be really interesting.

    • I think so too. It’s wonderful that the ‘difficult second novel’ hasn’t been a problem to produce – and now I can settle down to looking forward to her third.

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