In a future Dublin devastated by an epidemic, Nell Crane is a girl with a lot to prove. Nell’s mother and father have both made excellent contributions to the society in which they live and now, as she nears adulthood, Nell must make a contribution of her own. Sarah Maria Griffin’s brilliant coming of age tale is packed with intriguing ideas and themes, and some excellent storytelling.
Nell has spent her life as a showcase for her father’s skills, her sickly heart replaced with a mechanical one by him. Nell is under great pressure to step out from under her parents’ lofty shadows and she yearns to use her impressive intellect to create something great from her limited resources. She also has to contend with her maternal grandmother’s concerns and superstitions, and her desire to whisk Nell out of the city to a quiet life in the Pasture.
Griffin has created for the reader a wonderfully vivid world, full of a tragic losses and fear, but also full of the hope and enthusiasm of the young. Dublin appears as a broken-down city, but one which is gradually being rebuilt rather like Nell’s confidence. This is a brilliantly inventive and engaging novel that has plenty of unexpected twists and turns that will enthral and delight all kinds of readers.