1918. Britain and her allies are still fighting in the final stages of World War One. William Butler Yeats, Ireland’s renowned poet, resides in London. There he spends his days immersed in the other world ghosts and the occult. Convinced he is haunted by the ghost of a young murdered Irish girl he sends his friend Charles Adams to investigate, though Yeats is more interested in catching a ghost than a murderer. As Adams investigates he becomes embroiled in Irish politics and finds his own life in danger.
I always find fictional books that contain real characters fascinating. Artistic licence based on fact produces a surreal but compelling text and as I often do when reading such work, I found myself reading a little more about Yeats and the facts that the fiction was based upon, as soon as I had finished the book.
This was an atmospheric read. The foggy, wind-swept stormy lands described set the tone for the novel. It felt like there was a perpetual night time, which added to the haunted quality of the narration. Adams is an adept narrator and it is interesting to see his views on ghosts, the after-life, politics and Yeats alter as his investigation progresses.
At first it is difficult to see if this is a ghost story or a murder mystery, or piece on political history but really it is all of these. It was an engaging, enjoyable read. There are a host of interesting characters, from Yeats himself to Georgie, his wife, and Maud, his muse and the woman who rejected Yeats. It also provided me with an brief but interesting insight into Yeats and the Irish Separatist movement. I’ll be interested to read more by Anthony Quinn in the future.