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Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite
The Rock of Achill is a fantasy story set at the dawn of 19th century Ireland. Jim Sheehan's novel follows a young man named Donn in his quest to reclaim his family land so that he can build a future with his love, Bridget. Donn gets acquainted with Cathal O'Ruaire and his band of rebels and joins them on their journey to reclaim the long-lost sword of Nuada and restore the glory and ways of the Irish kings. Accompanied by his majestic horse, Croaghaun, Donn quickly rises through the ranks of the Irish knights as he showcases exemplary prowess in battle. They encounter numerous creatures from Irish mythology on their travels. Will Donn succeed in his quest? Will Bridget wait for him?
Despite being a fantasy tale, The Rock of Achill is a story of star-crossed lovers at its core. The relationship between Donn and Bridget drives the narrative. Jim Sheehan manages to convey the longing, heartache, and loneliness of his lovers beautifully. Donn's letters to Bridget are particularly heartbreaking. I found the worldbuilding to be of the highest order. Sheehan captures the very essence of Irish mythology as he creates a world that is not only full of wonder but, at times, is also terrifying. I was also pleasantly surprised by the thematic depth of the book as The Rock of Achill seems to raise an important question; "Are ideals more important to humans than their loved ones?" I thoroughly enjoyed The Rock of Achill. I would recommend it to fans of both fantasy and romance.