Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Review of The Blood Dimmed Tide by Anthony Quinn (No Exit, 2014)
Anthony Quinn has a very nice passage in The Blood Dimmed Tide that contrasts the Anglo-Saxon faith in science and reason and the Celts belief in the magical and mystical. It’s the central tension developed in the story, but also an important distinction with regards to readership, I think. Quinn is no doubt a fine writer and storyteller, as is evidenced by his first novel Disappeared, but I struggled my way into the first part of The Blood Dimmed Tide exclusively, I would hazard, based on my Anglo-Saxon scepticism with the supernatural and paranormal. Any story involving WB Yeats, however, is inevitably going to have to be rooted in these concerns given his lifelong obsession with them -- he joined the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in 1890 and belonged to the ‘Ghost’s club’. As the story unfolds, it shifts from being rooted in the supernatural to explore various tensions between mysticism and science, nationalism and unionism, law and criminality. The result, for me at least, was a progressively more entertaining amateur sleuth story set at an interesting time in Ireland’s history, populated by a couple of its most famous figures (Yeats, Maude Gonne). Overall, an out of the ordinary tale, that might at first appeal more to Celts, but won this Anglo-Saxon round.