Gods Don't Cry: Unsung Stories of Ireland's Forgotten Immortals
Ellen Ryan delivers another stellar compilation with these tales of Irish gods filled with adventure, magic, courage, self-actualisation, and relationship to others and the land. Ryan reimagines the action, downplaying the more traditional, sometimes toxic masculinity associated with tales of derring-do, and highlights qualities of the gods that are more inclusive, emotive, and multi-dimensional.
If myths are sacred stories that reflect a community’s worldview, then these mirror contemporary society: empowering others, gender affirming, repelling violence, differently abled, loving men. These gods offer readers alternative displays of bravery, and glimpses of the heroic in themselves. Ryan expertly weaves old and new, keeping these traditional tales relevant.
Merriman’s illustrations are evocative of a time without seasons. Bold colours play with light and shadow. There are trees without leaves and water without waves. Images swirl with an ethereal, dreamlike quality while boldly drawn gods feel solid and strong – the combination is striking. Stories are short, with an illustration to accompany each god’s tale. The tales progress by introducing gods as they relate to gods in previous stories, creating a continuity that makes it easy to keep track of who is who. At the end of each tale is a page including locations, associated powers and magic spells, and modern facts related to the stories.
This book is clearly targeted to boy readers, providing alternatives to binary, masculine constructions of manhood, but let this book not be limited to boys, for there are lessons and wonders to be soaked up by any reader.