This is the difficult part of writing book reviews. Sometimes, you just don’t care for a book.
I’m sad to say that this was my experience after finishing The Blood Upon the Rose by Tim Vicary. The story was interesting, and I wanted to like it. I’m a fan of British and Irish history, both more modern day (within the last 100 years or so) and more ancient. I enjoy learning and reading about it, and the time period this is set in is a good one, right after World War I, during the heyday of the Irish Republican Army and its fight for Irish independence. However, I just didn’t like the novel.
The writing was a little one-sided. Granted, the main characters were for the Sinn Fein (those leaning toward independence), but it seemed like the ones you were meant to be sympathetic towards, and had good in them, were the IRA, while the people loyal to England were all, for lack of a better term, bastards. (Don’t get me started on the character named Andrew Butler … If there was one character I just didn’t understand, it was him. A little 50 Shades, in his own way.)
My impression is the author meant for this to be more of a study in the inner demons and characters of individuals. I’m not positive of this, but it seemed like it. Still, I didn’t get that. It was too shallow to be a true study, in my opinion. The love story between Catherine and Sean was lacking, and I didn’t like Sean. Maybe he was a bit too immature, and I think that was the intention: an idealistic youth who doesn’t know how to balance his cause and a burgeoning love.
My favorite character was Michael Collins, actually, even though he had a smaller part in the book. He was an energetic, intelligent, motivated man, who knew what he could do and had plans within plans to free Ireland. Everyone likes a good rebel, I guess.
Part of the problem might have been that I maybe wanted a little more historical fact mixed in with the story. I wanted to know exactly what was going on, and I wasn’t sure exactly where this fit into the entire timeline. Maybe I’m used to thicker historical novels, where the story plot is part of the overall historical fact (like Alison Weir), but I think a little more history here might have helped put the story into context, as well.
I can’t tell you I hated the book; I didn’t hate it. Still, I don’t know that I can recommend it. There are a lot of good reviews from people on Goodreads and other places, which is why I got it in the first place. To each their own, I guess.