Review: Resonance by Celine Kiernan

Release Date: April 1st 2015
Published By: Allen & Unwin
Pages: 464
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Purchase: Click here to purchase

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Synopsis: What does it mean to be alive? What is it worth to stay alive?

Ireland, 1890: two ruthless immortals prowl the theatre district in search of food for their ‘Angel’. Ancient, pitiless and caring for none but their own twisted family, they will stop at nothing to maintain their grip on life.

A seamstress, the young man who loves her and a penniless American magician soon find themselves imprisoned in a snow-bound country estate, the latest additions to the family’s warped collection. Here, they are nothing but food, nothing but entertainment, and soon they will be nothing at all.

Far from their homes and fighting for survival, Tina, Joe and Harry will come to understand that far more is at stake than their lives.

A rich and provocative feat of the imagination from the creator of the Moorehawke Trilogy.


Review: Resonance is a book which had all the appeal - a pretty shiny cover, a historical fantasy set the beautiful surroundings of Dublin and an Irish country estate, with a touch of gothic mystery. It sounded mysterious and creepy and I was sure this book would appeal to all to me in a way that books just have not recently. Sadly however, it did not live up to my expectations.

Resonance follows Tina, a seamstress for a Dublin theatre, Joe, a young man of hardship who is trying to better his life and obtain Tina’s affections, and Harry, a young American man who has just arrived in Ireland (for the record, this is Harry Houdini, which was an aspect I thought I would really enjoy). Through circumstance, these 3 young people become friends, and their friendship will take one wild ride. Both Tina and Joe have attracted the attention of Vincent and Cornelius, two mysterious and wealthy men who have come to Ireland to audition acts for an upcoming production. These men soon become interested in Tina and Joe for unknown reasons, and although neither of them have any desire to become an act in their production, these men are powerful - and not only in the way only money can buy.

Soon, Tina, Joe, Harry and Ms Lyndon (she is used as a decoy to get Tina to go) find themselves at their very strange country estate. It is here that they meet the even stranger Raquel, and her very disturbed and frightening children.

And more importantly, it is here that Tina, Joe and Harry slowly start uncovering secrets held by their strange companions and the stranger place they reside at. The trio discover that the inhabitants of the estate have lived at the country estate for centuries, remaining perfectly preserved due to the fact that their lives are being sustained by an angel that they have locked up beneath the manor. They have been “feeding” the angel for centuries at the cost of normal human lives. Our trio quickly come to the conclusion that the only way to escape certain death, is to release the angel - but will this cost them more than their freedom?

Whilst there were certain elements of this book that I liked, I found that it was just too drawn out. Although the world-building was good, I thought the character development took up too much of the beginning of the story, and then the characters fell a little flat towards the end. Not to mention that the character development took up a good portion of the first half of the book, which was way too long and this is where it started to lose my interest a little.

I loved the creepiness of this “family” of immortals. I liked the fact that they were “auditioning” people to feed their angel and I loved the totally bizarre relationship they all shared (really bizarre - but very well written).

The book starts to pick up after they arrive back at the estate, however this is where things start to get confusing. I think that the along with the slow start and the confusion that follows actually causes some disengagement. I found that I was either confused as to what was going on or my mind was venturing off.

This gothic historical fantasy has some fantastic world building, and I really enjoyed Kiernan’s prose. I especially respected the fact the author created a sense of the time period (including the descriptions of settings and the way the characters spoke considering the period, their social status and education levels) which is something that is often overlooked in historical fiction. However, sadly this book just took too long for me to feel sucked into this world.


What do you think?

  • […] Resonance by Caline Kiernan: I just did not connect to this book. Although it had everything that would normally attracted me to a book; a pretty shiny cover, historical fantasy with a touch of gothic mystery, I just could not connect to this book. I personally found it slow, confusing and disengaging. However, it did have a lovely prose and great world building - it just all came too slowly for me. My review can be found here. […]

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