Ireland, 1911. After encountering a faery in the woodlands near his home in Tralee when he is a child, Professor Emmet Brehon spends his life pursuing the belief that faeries are more than just elements of mythology. While teaching Irish mythology and folklore at a university in Dublin, he receives a note from a stranger who claims to know where faeries can be found. Following the map that the stranger gives him, Emmet travels to a faerie circle and mound near Lough Leane in Kerry, where he encounters two ghostly little girls and a faery light. Snapping a photograph of the girls and faery light with his Brownie camera, Emmet's life becomes twisted when he discovers that he can't rid himself of the photograph, and disasters occur whenever he is present. He soon loses all in life that it is precious to him, including his sanity.
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Starting off in 1911 Ireland, Professor Emmet Brehon is on the hunt for fairies. He believes they are more than simple bits of folklore. He finds a secluded place that is rumored to be visited by fairies and surprisingly, he sees two young fairy like girls and a mysterious light. He snaps a photo, intending to use it as proof of the existence of fairies. Alas, one misfortune after another falls upon Emmet and those close to him. He starts to suspect the photo may be more than a simple picture.
The story took a little while for me to get into. Things start off quaint and cozy. Once horrible things start happening, the pace picks up and things are much more interesting. First, there’s this mysterious photo and Emmet is the only one who seems to be able to see the fairies and the ghostly light in it. Then he notices that when he sees nothing but the background vegetation in the photo, bad things happen. First, there’s a car accident and the mother of his fiance is killed. At the funeral, there is an awful storm and the open grave fills with water and the coffin floats off, perusing Emmet and Katherine (his fiance). It goes on from there – the spooky and misfortunate and disfiguring and sometimes deadly events pile up.
Emmet eventually learns that he can’t destroy or bury or pass off the photo to be free of the troublesome spirits that inhabit it. Unfortunately, he also can no longer get stinking drunk and forget about the photo. Poor dude. Emmet tries to the flee Ireland, hoping to leave the magic that powers the spirits behind. However, this proves very difficult. I really enjoyed that it was not easy or simple for Emmet to be free of these spirits. It becomes the thing that drives him but also the thing that gets him in trouble with friends and authorities alike.
The story spans 4 years and the author threw in some references to famous people or events of the time, like Houdini and the Titanic. I like that he did this, giving me reference points to other things happening in the world at the same time that Emmet is struggling with his spirits….. or a mental illness? Indeed, as the story moved forward, I had to start wondering if Emmet was all there, as some characters in the story wonder. The author doesn’t push the reader one way or the other and it’s up to you to decide.
Over all, it was a fun tale of classic horror. There’s not much gore, as the story relies mostly on the psychological terror of the events Emmet is party to, or at least a witness to. I really enjoyed this aspect of the story and I’m glad I stuck with it.
I received this book free of charge from the narrator in exchange for an honest review.
The Narration: This was a tough book to get through because of the narration. The volume keeps changing. The narration in general sounds either muffled or like at the end of a long metal tube. David Ocean tries to spruce it up a bit with a few sound effects but these are roughly pasted into the performance, like the sound of two girls giggling. Also, sometimes when he does a different character voice, like Katherine’s, that also sounds pasted in – not always, just sometimes. With that said, he does do an Irish accent for Emmet and Katherine all the way through the book. His female voices are believable.
Professor Emmet Brehon believes he saw a sweet faery as a child and has spent his life studying folklore and mythology. He is excited when he receives a note and map telling him where to find faeries in Killarney. He travels there one night in 1911 to sneak up on a faery mound with his new Brownie Camera. Emmet is ecstatic to get a photograph when he spots two ghostly little girls and a faery light with wings. He hurries away treasuring the camera in hopes that he will finally have proof of his discovery.
As soon as Emmet returns to the ancient inn where he is staying dark things begin to plague his life. Others die around him as he escapes a fire at the inn and then a train crash while returning to the city. He is able to get the photograph developed but the image of the almost transparent girls and the dot of winged light acts strangely. He hears girlish giggles and a banshee scream right before another death or accident occurs. He becomes more distressed as he leaves a trail of dead acquaintances and friends behind him. Emmet seeks to rid himself of the photo and the curse without success.
Emmet is taking his wealthy fiance’, Catherine, out for dinner planning to explain the problems he is having. Another accident occurs with the driver of their vehicle killing a woman in the street. He convinces Catherine that they must leave Ireland and travel far away to America to try to out run the faery curse. Needless to say, one can’t outrun a curse that you carry with you.
Emmet survives ship disasters and suspicious doctors when he finally arrives in New York. Before he is able to return to Ireland he will face other physical and ghostly encounters that bring him to the brink of madness. The doctors think they can help but will Emmet face medical danger too?
Note the darkness of the cover of this story and be forewarned. The story moves well, but is not light; it is dark. It is engaging in a macabre way and not good for bedtime reading. I liked the dark ironies and the tie-in to well-known events of the years the story covers. I think this is best suited for adult readers/listeners who enjoy dark folklore or even horror.
Audio Notes: I have to admit I was intrigued by David Ocean’s lovely brogue and most of the narration as it fits Emmet. Sadly, the female voices did not work so well as they were more strident or shrill than feminine. I did enjoy the added sound effect of the ghostly giggles and banshee wail although there were a few in the middle that were out of sync with the tale. For me, the audio made this a better read. However, readers interested in this should enjoy it equally in either format that suits them.
I received this title from the narrator for an honest review.