Sunday, 31 January 2016

Fractured by Clár Nί Chonghaile

"A great debut"

Blurb from the book:

"Journalist Peter Maguire has been kidnapped in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu. He does not know where he is or what is going to happen to him. He is filled with fear and, as the days go by, this dread of the unknown is shot through with remorse for the mistakes of his past.

Peter's mother, Nina comes to Somalia to wait for her son’s release. His plight forces her to relive another trauma—the fatal shooting in Liberia of Shaun Ridge, a young photographer she once loved, and Peter’s real father.

Abdi, a Somali teenager working with Peter’s captors strikes a tenuous friendship with the prisoner based on a shared feeling of captivity. He decides to help Peter escape. Together they set off into the barren vastness of a land filled with danger.

These three people must journey into one of the world's most dangerous places, the human mind, to answer the question: are we ever truly free?"


This is a debut novel by this particular author and, to be honest, not one that I would have chosen to read myself but was lucky enough to have been sent an advance copy from the publisher, Legend Times Group, in return for an honest review and I am really pleased they did as I really enjoyed it.

The setting of the story is mainly Somalia and the author brilliantly captures and describes this war-torn country. In parts, it’s as bleak as the main characters’ lives but, in others, the author manages to bring out the beauty that the country so obviously has.

The story is told from 3 perspectives - Peter, Nina and Abdi. Peter is a journalist held hostage; Nina is his mother who has flown out to try and help secure his release and Abdi is a Somali teenager who is a participant in the “care” of the kidnapped Peter. I didn’t particularly warm to Peter despite his plight; he came across as an arrogant, selfish young man however, once his background is revealed. his actions become more understanding but he remains, to me, not a particularly likeable person. Nina is the voice of a mother who feels blame and responsibility for what has happened due to the choices she has made in her life which, like all the characters, is well explored throughout the book.

Abdi is a young man whose life has been filled with tragedy and I warmed to him almost immediately despite him being mixed up in the kidnapping of Peter. Abdi is as much a prisoner as Peter and he sees the similarities between them both - resigned to the fact they have no future. Abdi provides an insight into life in a war-torn country of being afraid to step outside because of a real fear of death at any moment - no wonder thousands risk their lives escaping similar situations - who would want to live like that?

The pace of the book is steady and well written but I do have one criticism; some of the language is a bit stilted, for example the author writes “I did not know” when “I didn’t know” would have been more natural and helped the flow a little better. I understand this happening in some of the conversations where English is the second language but not when Nina or Peter are reflecting to themselves or having an internal dialogue.

Overall though, I have few complaints and applaud the author on a great debut. The subject matter is topical given what is happening in various countries around the world and although it is a work of fiction, it is the strength of the author’s writing and her ability to make you think the characters are real people in real situations which makes this book very plausible and realistic - I actually think this would make a pretty good film.

I would be very interested to read Clár's next novel and hope it doesn't take 11 years to write that one.

Fractured is available to purchase on 1st February 2016.


Author website - http://www.legendtimesgroup.co.uk/legend-press/authors/1054-clar-ni-chonghaile

Twitter - clarnic

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