The Glorious Heresies – Lisa McInerney

(Reviewed by JD Jung)

“I don’t spend every second social occasion fantasising about enormous inanimate objects that one time used to mean something to me. But I’ve been fucked these past three weeks. I’ve been sick, and tired, and dizzy, and dead. And so that fucking piano is taunting parts of me I kept well covered until temporary madness stripped back the skin and left me beaten and bleeding. You couldn’t play me now, it says. Your fingers have fused, your mind’s gone grey… You’re nothing. “

Maybe fifteen year old Ryan’s life could have been different.  He loved the  piano and his girlfriend, Karine. Then again, he didn’t have many choices; his life was predetermined. Tony, an alcoholic father of six, couldn’t  stay out of trouble. Fifty-nine year old Maureen—a pyromaniac — hit an intruder with a Holy Stone and killed him. Fifteen year old runaway Georgie, who survived any way she could, moved in with twenty- two year old Robbie. Then there was Tara who helped drug addicts and prostitutes only for her own benefit.  Gangster Jimmy Phelan tried to protect his mother while keeping his organization intact. However, Jimmy wasn’t the only one who paid for the sins of his parents.

As we read on, we see how each of these lives were intertwined. It’s not just the dealers and the pimps who rule the underbelly of Cork City, Ireland, but author Lisa McInerney places the Church as a major culprit.

“The Church craves power above all things, power above all of the living. The Church has an ideal and it’ll raze all in its way to achieve it. The Church needs its blind devout…The Church creates its sinners so it has something to save.”


Initially I had trouble keeping track of all of the characters  in The Glorious Heresies , but their reoccurring roles eventually made it easier; and they were all essential to the story.

This novel is gritty and raw.  As you can tell from the opening quote, the expressive writing style draws you in.  Though I feel that it was longer that it needed to be, I still couldn’t put it down.

If you like dark realism with just a bit of sarcastic humor, The Glorious Heresies is the book for you.

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