I have a great love for Irish fiction. I haven’t yet had the chance to visit Ireland or Northern Ireland, but hopefully, one day, I will. Anyway. Reading In The Dark follows the story of a young boy, going through life and slowly realising the secrets kept by his family. As the years go by, he learns a little bit more about the ties his family had to the IRA, the disappearance of his Uncle Eddie, and how secrets can damage a person.
Deane’s writing really draws us into post-war Ireland, as we see the children gathering together to get rid of the rats in the air raid shelters, and see how even taking a beating from a bully is preferable to flagging down a police car to get help. The Ireland that many have grown up in, for generations, is torn, divided, in a way that I don’t think a lot of people in the Western world can relate to. But this division in the country itself isn’t the focus of the novel. Instead, we see the way the division seeps into a family, we see how they affect these people on an individual basis, as men are killed for being traitors, as others are driven mad by what they are forced to do.
Throughout this, we get glimpses into the main character’s education. We meet a variety of interesting characters that make up the community and see as the world shifts around them.
The book packs a powerful punch, especially on the emotional side, even without playing on the reader’s emotions. Instead, we simply see what the characters are going through and feel for them. The effect of the book is subtle, and the scenes are realistic and honest to life. It’s a brilliant novel, and well worth a read for anyone interested in Irish fiction.