Dark Warning – Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick

“I was about four when I saw Matt Davern’s spaniel bite John Reilly’s hand. Nothing strange in that ‘cept I saw that dog bite John Reilly a full five minutes before John Reilly even reached out to pat the cross old thing.”
Taney Tyrell can see things before they happen; she has a gift, a gift passed down to her from the mother she can’t remember. Her father won’t speak of it and used to keep a close eye on Taney for any strange behaviour. Her father moved on and married Mary Kate, a stern woman who means well but won’t stand for nonsense. But when Taney’s father loses his job and Mary Kate starts taking Taney to work with her Taney’s abilities really start forming and everyone’s too busy to notice them. Then a number of attacks on serving girls start up in the area and Taney’s abilities allow her to see some terrible things, she was once fond of her gifts but now she’s not sure if they are blessing or a curse.

***

Dark Warning was a brilliant piece of historical fiction. My interest was high right from the start when I saw how clearly the setting was laid out with the descriptions of the area Taney lived and the way the characters spoke. These are the kinds of things that really make me enjoy a book, however they have to be paired with great characters and plot to make me really love it and that’s where I thought Dark Warning went wrong.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate this book, but I didn’t love it either. It was an interesting read but I didn’t connect to any of the characters, not really anyway. I felt sorry for some of them and the way they lived, I wanted to understand them more but I don’t think it was there. A lot of the characters were quite interesting but I think the only ones I felt any real emotional connection to were the Misses Davies. Even Billy, who had no legs and a rough life, didn’t get my emotions stirred up! I love the Georgian Irish setting but those who lived in it? Not so much.
The story was interesting enough but it dragged. Nothing really exciting happened until around  150 pages in, and the book was only 250! There were events that happened which were setting up the later parts in the book but they weren’t of any great significance and it was just a bit like reading a normal historical fiction book, rather than a thriller as the summary suggests.
Like I said, there were some things I really enjoyed about this book and one of them was the language. I was intrigued as to how the characters spoke and how it brought out the Irish setting. I loved that the dialect was in there and even though it was strange at first I got used to it quickly and thought it proved to be a great asset of the book.
I would probably recommend Dark Warning as a historical thriller to younger YA readers. I think 12/13 year old girls especially will enjoy this one as it’s a decent quick read. Although I didn’t connect with the characters something kept me reading and I think others will be urged on by the writing as I was.
Dark Warning was published on 5th January by Orion Children’s Books. Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review, this has in no way affected my thoughts.