Category: Book Review

Irish Myths and Legends | The Irish Readathon

Ireland has a rich history of storytelling. We’re known for myths, legends, fairytales and folklore. A lot of the mythology from here has inspired TV shows, movies and books we see now. The Banshee (I was terrified of this auld bag as a child) has featured in the shows Charmed and Supernatural as well as being a character in X-Men. There’s also a series of books by Rachel Vincent that centres around banshees called Soul Screamers (I haven’t read it yet but it’s on the list….along with about 600 other books).

For the Irish Readathon, I wanted to share some of my favourite elements of Irish mythology with you.

Tir na nOg

The story of Oisin and Tir na nOg follows poor Oisin after he meets Niamh of the Golden Hair and goes to Tir na nOg (Land of the Young) with her. This is basically a fairy realm where you don’t age or die and Oisin was very happy there for 300 years when he began to miss Ireland. He decides to visit his home but is warned that if he touches the ground he will not be able to return. Of course, he does touch the land and instantly ages to an old man and dies soon after.

I really think Niamh could have given him a stronger warning here instead of just “you won’t be able to return”! Anyway, this is one of my favourites because I was fascinated by the idea of a magical realm that you could travel to on horseback. You just had to run into a fairy to bring you there.

The Children of Lir

I’ve always loved this story though I’m not sure why because it is not remotely pleasant. The story follows a group of siblings (Lir’s children 😉) who have been turned into swans by their father’s new wife because she was jealous of them. They remain as swans for hundreds and hundreds of years enduring unending torment and sorrow (mostly at the hands of the weather which is what Irish people complain about a lot even though our weather is generally quite mild). After 900 years the spell on them ends and they turn into very old people. They are found by a monk who baptises them just before they die and he buries them together.

The only thing I don’t like about this story is the rush towards Christianity at the end. This story must have been circulating around the time the island was being converted.

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Loftus Hall

Loftus Hall is apparently the most haunted house in Ireland. It’s a mansion house in County Wexford close to Hook Head. The area is actually quite beautiful and I recommend visiting even if you don’t want to see the haunted house. There has been a resident on the site since 1170 when a Norman man built a castle there and it has gone through several changes and families over the years to become the mansion house it is now.

So what makes it a haunted house? It’s said to have been visited by the devil. The legend goes that a sailor showed up at the house seeking refuge during a storm. He was invited to stay by the family and they later sat down to a game of cards. The daughter of the house discovered the man had hoofed feet when she dropped a card under the table. When the man realised she’d seen his feet he shot through the roof in a ball of flames. The girl went insane and her family locked her away in one of the rooms of the house for the rest of her life.

The Banshee

The Banshee (or the auld bag as I like to call her) genuinely terrified me as a child. I’m not sure if she’s a demon or fairy or some kind of ghost but her shtick is to scream if a member of your family is going to die. As a child, I’d heard as well that if you saw her it meant that you were going to die. I grew up in the countryside with foxes and all sorts running around outside my window at night time. Any little squeal of a sound would have me terrified I’d heard the banshee and someone in my family was about to bite the dust. No one ever did though and I soon learned to recognise animal sounds.

Fairy Mounds

Fairy mounds both frightened and captivated me. There was one in one of the lower fields by my house and my grandad told me to stay away from it because the fairies would come after me. Which to a child is like a scary thing and an exciting thing at the same time. It could have been my chance to get to Tir na nOg!!!

I’m pretty sure the one at my house was just a lump of earth my grandad decided to tell me stories about and not what people usually refer to as fairy forts/rings which are the remains of circular homes from the iron age. It was still pretty magical to me though.


Dead of Winter by Kresley Cole Review

Dead of Winter (The Arcana Chronicles, #3)

Title: Dead of Winter

Series: The Arcana Chronicles #3

Author: Kresley Cole

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia, Fantasy

Synopsis:  Can Evie convince her rival loves to work together? Their survival depends on it in this third book of #1 New York Timesbestselling author Kresley Cole’s Arcana Chronicles, a nonstop action tale of rescue, redemption, and a revenge most wicked.

Heartbreaking decisions 

Evie was almost seduced by the life of comfort that Death offered her—until Jack was threatened by two of the most horrific Arcana, The Lovers. She will do anything to save him, even escape Death’s uncanny prison, full of beautiful objects, material comforts…and stolen glances from a former love.

Uncertain victory 

Despite leaving a part of her heart behind with Death, Evie sets out into a perilous post-apocalyptic wasteland to meet up with her allies and launch an attack on the Lovers. Such formidable enemies require a battle plan, and the only way to kill them may mean Evie, Jack, and Death allying. Evie doesn’t know what will prove more impossible: surviving slavers, plague, Bagmen and other Arcana—or convincing Jack and Death to work together.

Two heroes returned 
There’s a thin line between love and hate, and Evie just doesn’t know where she stands with either Jack or Death. Will this unlikely trio be able to defeat The Lovers without killing one another first…?

Format: ebook

Pages/Hours: 286 pages

Ownership: Own

My Rating: ★★★★★

Themes: Love Triangle

Dead of Winter by Kresley Cole
Instagram @elainehowlin_

Review:  The love triangle gets very annoying in this one. I wanted to grab them and tell them to get over it! But the story makes up for all the angst here. We get a lot of expansion with the Arcana and the game. Jack’s character grows greatly as well and we now have a really solid world that the characters impact on.

Get the book: Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis and book cover from Goodreads. Photos from my Instagram @elainehowlin_


Endless Knight by Kresley Cole Review

Endless Knight (The Arcana Chronicles, #2)

Title: Endless Knight

Series: The Arcana Chronicles #2

Author: Kresley Cole

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia, Fantasy

Synopsis: Evie has fully come into her powers as the tarot Empress. And Jack was there to see it all. In the aftermath of killing Arthur, Evie realizes that there is a war brewing between the teens who’ve been given powers following the apocalypse, and it’s kill or be killed. When Evie meets Death, the gorgeous and dangerous Endless Knight, things get even more complicated. Somehow the Empress and Death share a romantic history. One that Evie can’t remember, but Death can’t forget. Evie is drawn to Death, but in love with Jack. She is determined to discover why she’s been granted these powers, and in the process, struggles to accept her place in the prophecy that will either save the world, or destroy it.  

Format: ebook

Pages/Hours: 320 pages

Ownership: Own

My Rating: ★★★★★

Tags: Beauty and the Beast

Themes: Love Triangle, Hate to Love, Enemies to Lovers, Possessive Hero, Jealous Hero

Endless Knight by Kresley Cole

Review: Ok, I loved this one again but a love triangle pops up here. It’s not too annoying (yet) but it does take over the story a bit. It’s the first love triangle I have read where I genuinely can’t decide between the guys!! I have an idea which one she will go with in the end but only because he was introduced first.

It doesn’t take over completely, we get some story development and find out a good bit more about the Arcana.

Get the book: Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis and book cover from Goodreads. Photos from my Instagram @elainehowlin_


Poison Princess by Kresley Cole Review

Poison Princess (The Arcana Chronicles, #1)

Title: Poison Princess

Series: The Arcana Chronicles #1

Author: Kesley Cole

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia, Fantasy


She could save the world—or destroy it.

Sixteen-year-old Evangeline “Evie” Greene leads a charmed life, until she begins experiencing horrifying hallucinations. When an apocalyptic event decimates her Louisiana hometown, Evie realizes her hallucinations were actually visions of the future—and they’re still happening. Fighting for her life and desperate for answers, she must turn to her wrong-side-of-the-bayou classmate: Jack Deveaux.

But she can’t do either alone.

With his mile-long rap sheet, wicked grin, and bad attitude, Jack is like no boy Evie has ever known. Even though he once scorned her and everything she represented, he agrees to protect Evie on her quest. She knows she can’t totally depend on Jack. If he ever cast that wicked grin her way, could she possibly resist him?

Who can Evie trust?

As Jack and Evie race to find the source of her visions, they meet others who have gotten the same call. An ancient prophecy is being played out, and Evie is not the only one with special powers. A group of twenty-two teens has been chosen to reenact the ultimate battle between good and evil. But it’s not always clear who is on which side.

Format: ebook

Pages/Hours: 385 pages

Ownership: Own

My Rating: ★★★★★

Themes: Alpha Male, Magic, Suspense, Hate to Love

Poison Princess by Kresley Cole
Instagram @elainehowlin_

Review: I enjoyed this book way more than I expected to! I loved it!!! I devoured it and gobbled up the next two books straight away!

I’m always a bit iffy with young adult books but this one had enough of Cole’s style to keep me very happy. A lot of the usual YA cliches are present but they don’t frustrate me in this book and all of the characters are so well developed it never feels like one of those books that centre around this super teenage girl that everyone is obsessed with.

Get the book: Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis and book cover from Goodreads. Photos from my Instagram @elainehowlin_