Beginning where its predecessor, The Glorious Heresies, left off, Lisa McInerney’s second novel The Blood Miracles confirms she is a literary force to be reckoned with in this hard-hitting, bold and funny coming-of-age tale.
Wannabe gangster Ryan divides his time between drug dealing, appeasing both his girlfriend and fling, and striking up a friendship with a familiar old lady who is on a mission to save him from himself. Add in a dysfunctional relationship with gangster-dad Tony and his bitter one-sided conversations with his dead mother, and it is understandable why he fails to do any of these things well. This time, it’s his story, one with twists and turns which we follow as he tries to find himself and discover what he’s made of, dodging bullets all the while. To reveal more would spoil the adventure. Described by McInerney as “a sort-of sequel”, The Blood Miracles can be read alone without the knowledge of The Glorious Heresies. Many of the characters are the same, but their journey this time is entirely different.
Like its predecessor, this book has much to say about modern-day Ireland, particularly of the changing family, and young people’s attitudes towards it. A marriage break-down and unwedded pregnancy are not the sins in this tale; here, a much murkier world exists. Though this is a story that could be set in any city, it retains individuality through use of a distinguished Corkonian setting: a city with character, packed full of local dialect, giving life and soul, not just to the people, but to the place they inhabit. (Coincidently, I read The Glorious Heresies whilst on holiday in Cork last summer, without knowing the city was its setting until I starting reading – I recommend it: “Literary Holidays”.) McInerney sets herself apart from her fellow Irish contemporaries, Keyes, Kelly, O’Flanagan et al, too often lumped together and labelled lazily as “chick lit”. The Blood Miracles suits women’s tastes just as well as the latter authors, but without the pink and fluff and love hearts.
Rumoured to be the second in a trilogy, The Blood Miracles’ style, wit and grit certainly leaves you hungering for the final outing.
The Blood Miracles is published in April 2017 by John Murray Books.