Title: The Storm Keeper’s Island
Author: Catherine Doyle
Published: 1st August 2018
Synopsis: WINNER OF THE BAMB YOUNG READERS – MIDDLE GRADE AWARD 2018
WINNER OF THE INDEPENDENT BOOKSHOP WEEK BOOK AWARD 2019
‘Magical in every way’ – EOIN COLFER
When Fionn Boyle sets foot on Arranmore Island, it begins to stir beneath his feet …
Once in a generation, Arranmore Island chooses a new Storm Keeper to wield its power and keep its magic safe from enemies. The time has come for Fionn’s grandfather, a secretive and eccentric old man, to step down. Soon, a new Keeper will rise.
But, deep underground, someone has been waiting for Fionn. As the battle to become the island’s next champion rages, a more sinister magic is waking up, intent on rekindling an ancient war.
Fionn and his sister, Tara, have been sent to their grandfather’s cottage on Arranmore Island for the summer. Strange things start happening when they arrive, and soon, Fionn finds his sister drifting away with Bartley Beasley as he befriends Barley’s sister, Shelby. But Bartley has ulterior motives, driven by his family and a history of Storm Keepers on the Island that has led to much tension between some of the families living on the island. Yet Fionn has more to contend with than someone who thinks they should be Storm Keeper. An old enemy of the island and its inhabitants has been waiting for Fionn to arrive for many years. But who is this person, and what does she want with Fionn?
The Storm Keeper’s Island sets up the trilogy and characters, and establishes the systems of magic, the island and the conflicts, and weaves the history and backstory of the characters into the narrative, whilst at the same time, leaving a few things to be discovered in the last two books. It draws on Ireland and ideas of magic that have different manifestations across the world and in many different stories. Drawing on various traditions as well as putting a new and intriguing spin on magic related to storms and nature, Catherine Doyle has created a world that is immersive, fantastical and yet, set within our world, and relatable to younger readers.
It also touches on sibling rivalry, interfamily tension and mental health – though the final aspect is more implied than explicit, it gives the novel some gravitas that allows the characters to grow and evolve across the novel, whilst leaving enough space for them to grow in the next two novels. Fionn’s feelings of isolation are echoed in the desolate feelings of the island, and its distance from everything that Fionn and Tara have ever known in Dublin. It shows the complexity of the characters, and how their emotions can be connected to each other, and the magic of the island.
The way Catherine Doyle sets up what is to come at the end of the novel is drip-fed to the reader, and the revelations bring a new aspect of this very real yet also, fantastical and mystical world that comes together so well to create this book and the story. I’m planning to read the first two before the third book arrives for review purposes, It is an exciting middle grade series, that will capture the imagination and enthral readers, whilst allowing an escape to Ireland and a world where anything can happen.