We were delighted to see excellent reviews of Taking Flight and Grounded by Sheena Wilkinson and The Keeperby Darragh Martin appearing in recent American publications. Sheena Wilkinson’s books are published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside in the USA. All three books have Irish settings – Wilkinson’s books are set in Belfast and are gritty urban contemporary novels and The Keeper is a fantastical quest steeped in Irish myths and legends. The highly positive reviews these titles are receiving abroad shows their international appeal, and the universality of their themes. We are thrilled to see our books reaching new readers, and getting such a warm welcome from reviewers.
The School Library Journal is an American-based publication which reviews children’s and young adult books, as well as related digital content. Darragh Martin’s fantasy adventure The Keeper received a starred review in their July issue. Librarian Sabrina Carnesi praised the ‘well-crafted story line’ and the exciting plot, filled with challenges for the protagonist to overcome. She concluded that: ‘Fans of Percy Jackson and Harry Potter will enjoy this fast-paced high fantasy adventure that adds a refreshing twist to Celtic myths and legends.’
Sheena Wilkinson’s award-winning Taking Flight also received a positive review in the School Library Journal. Librarian Heather Massa wrote that the book would appeal to younger and older teens, particularly those who liked horse stories. She felt that the Irish slang would be easily understood by readers. Taking Flight is told in the alternating points of view of cousins Vicky and Declan, and Massa praised the distinctive narrative voices: ‘Both voices are believable as teens and are well drawn and layered. Vicky is spoiled and a little bratty, but depictions of her divorced parents and upper-class lifestyle provide an explanation for her behavior. Declan rebels in classic “fight and flight” ways, but he narrates his reasons and his feelings in a way that will feel relatable.’
Kirkus Reviews is a bi-monthly publication (print and digital) in the USA which reviews over 7,000 titles per year. Grounded, the gripping sequel to Taking Flight, received a starred review in this magazine. The reviewer praised the narration, and the creation of a credible and sympathetic protagonist: ‘Declan’s staccato first-person voice vividly conveys his confusion, desires, failures, and decency, sentence length and syntax skillfully modulating according to his mood.’ Grounded deals with some very dark and difficult themes, and the review concluded with this wonderful statement: ‘Wilkinson portrays complicated situations with nuanced truth and spare elegance.’
We are delighted to see our books setting sail from the Island and finding new audiences, thank you to the School Library Journal and Kirkus Reviews for their kind words.