Bonnie McKernan’s “Cliff of the Ruin”

CliffBonnie McKernan’s  Cliff of the Ruin is a real treat for fans of historical fiction and fantasy with elements of folklore.

The year is 1879, when women’s position in society is far from being enviable. McKernan uses an interesting analogy between Ireland’s subservient position towards England and wife’s submissive position towards her husband. “A woman ceases to exist as a separate entity in marriage, thus losing her voice…”

Yet, Mae Kendrick, a 25-year-old Irish beauty, defies the stereotype of an obedient woman without rights. Although she’s totally dependent on her aunt and uncle, her guardians, she strives to be self-sufficient. An accomplished artist, she thinks more about her art than catching a husband and settling down like all young women in her little town of New Jersey, where she’s been living since she was three. However, when she meets Kieran McCree, a strikingly handsome carpenter, he steals her heart and bewitches her—literally. Shortly thereafter, another gentleman comes into play. William Teague, a dashing war hero and a New York lawyer, visits Mae at her uncle’s request and falls for her, although not revealing his feelings to her.

Then May unexpectedly marries Kieran, but has no memory of the event. Her husband’s vanishing adds to her confusion. Her uncle hires Mr. Teague to help her locate Kieran. Together with her cousin, Aaron, and Mr. Teague, Mae embarks on a long journey to her native land, Ireland. Their voyage is filled with perilous adventures. And once they arrive, the plot thickens, the danger hanging over their heads like a guillotine, and their courage, wits and perseverance are the only weapons against evil and witchery.

As Mae tells William, “There’s a lot going on here, most of it screwy. I don’t know what is real or imagined, threatening or harmless…”

My thoughts exactly! The novel is a mixture of reality and fantasy, a border between the two blended so intricately and intoxicatingly well that you constantly wonder, just like the characters, if the events happening to them are real or dreamed about or the products of witchcraft and hallucination.

The novel is a modern fairy tale for adults, laced with Celtic poetry, Irish folklore, and humor. The characters are well-developed, interesting, and memorable. The plot is masterfully crafted. The suspense is nail-biting. The language is lyrical.

For its exquisite style and literary merit, Cliff of the Ruin is awarded Writer’s Digest “Mark of Quality” by its publisher Abbott Press. My heartfelt congratulations to Bonnie McKernan for her outstanding achievement! Read her interview on the Abbott Press blog.

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