Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Savage Her Reply” as Want to Read:
Savage Her Reply
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Savage Her Reply

4.44  ·  Rating details ·  105 ratings  ·  25 reviews
A dark, feminist retelling of The Children of Lir told in Sullivan's hypnotic prose. A retelling of the favourite Irish fairytale The Children of Lir. Aife marries Lir, a king with four children by his previous wife. Jealous of his affection for his children, the witch Aife turns them into swans for 900 years. Retold through the voice of Aife, Savage Her Reply is unsettlin ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published October 1st 2020 by Little Island
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Savage Her Reply, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Savage Her Reply

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.44  · 
Rating details
 ·  105 ratings  ·  25 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Savage Her Reply
Jul 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Astonishingly beautiful and moving. Gorgeously written. Showing tender and fierce regard for all aspects of human experience, for history and what history does to us, for religions and what religions do for and to us. Deirdre Sullivan grows stronger with every book. She is one of the few writers whose work I will take up, knowing nothing about it but the name of the author.
Ruth Long
Sep 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An incredible, moving work of art. I adore this book, everything about it. It's a stunning retelling, it's elaborate and detailed, dark and brutal. Deirdre is an amazing writer and everyone should read this. Aife's voice is raw and powerful, and comes alive with Deirdre's rich and beautiful prose. It's enthralling. I love it. 5 stars are not enough. ...more
Oct 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, irish-lit
A retelling of the famous Irish legend, The Children of Lir, in which an evil stepmother turns four children into swans to get revenge on their father. Aífe, the central character in Sullivan's version, is much more complex than simply an 'evil stepmother', and suffers torment because of her crimes. Sullivan has experimented before with reworking fairytales in her wonderful collection, Tangleweed and Brine. Each short piece in that collection reads like a prose-poem: exquisitely wrought and care ...more
Helen Corcoran
Sep 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Brutal and magnificent. Full review to come.
Kate (GirlReading)
Sep 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
One of the most intriguing, unique fantasies and beautifully written fantasies I've read in a long time.

Deirdre Sullivan's writing is poetic and brutal, intoxicating and dark. This book felt like it should have been written back in the days when the classic fairytales we know and love were first born (in such a magnificent way). Like, I genuinely feel as though in fifty years time, Disney is going to be animating this as a 'reimagining of Deirdre Sullivan's classic tale' with sweet swan songs a
Amanda Jones
Dec 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book took me by surprise in the best possible way. I wasn't sure if I was going to like it at first, but then I found myself falling in love with the author's use of language. The writing is outstanding - lyrical and poetic, each word feels necessary and wields a subtle power. I found myself getting emotional a few times and had to slow down, so I wouldn't finish reading it too quickly. One of the most beautiful myth re-tellings I've ever read. ...more
I was drawn to read this having never heard of the Irish tale The Children of Lir and I was intrigued by the Gaelic names and words. I'm planning to read Tangleweed and Brine, a collection of shorter retold stories by the same author as well.

I loved the structure of the book, the italicised pages preceding some chapters that narrate a classic version of the tale, followed by the author's chapter which provides greater depth and is told from the point of view of Aife, the middle sister, married o
Sep 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fierce and wild and lovely - an inspired and passionate retelling of the ancient tale of the Children of Lir.

Not only is the writing superlative, the book is a beautiful object; handsomely bound and beautifully illustrated by Karen Vaughan.

A book to treasure.
Dec 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Children of Lir as you've never heard it before. Dark and beautiful, rich with Irish myth, Ogham calligrams between every chapter, and poetry in the prose. Not one to be rushed. ...more
Sarah Page Clifford
Dec 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
OK so this is definitely a slower book, it took me longer to read than normal and I didn't find myself * dying * to pick it back up BUT this is probably one of the best character studies I've ever read. Afie felt like a very complex character and I really felt like the layered emotions really tied into the theme of the book. Also the language was so pretty and I'm a sucker for that. ...more
Mary Kate
Dec 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
there's something about deirdre sullivan's prose/style that makes me really fall short of fully emotionally engaging with her books (I think she's a brilliant writer, this is just a matter of taste that I can't put down to anything other than 'vibes') but this was really beautiful and I wept ...more
I was sent this review copy for free by Little Island Books / Nina Douglas PR for the purposes of providing an honest review.

Trigger and Content Warnings are under the spoiler tag.

(view spoiler)

Having adored Tangleweed and Brine so much, when I discovered Deirdre Sullivan had written anot
Mary Judy
Sep 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Written in exquisite, flowing prose, this is not so much a retelling as it is a re-feeling of the pivotal Irish legend. All the original elements are there, but turned inside out and given a new voice that both cements the story firmly in the past while bringing it into the here and now as part of the fibre of who we are now. Enchanted into a new comprehension as if the very words of the text are a spell in and of themselves, we must stay with the myth. It cuts away any previous caricature of pa ...more
Oct 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, irish
I only finished this book this morning, and it's the kind of book I want to write and read essays about, so I can't promise this review will be the most coherent. I'm tempted to compare Savage Her Reply to recent popular mythological retellings, like Circe, but there's so many things I think are unique and special about this book.

The writing is some of the most beautiful I've ever read - it's accessible but epic and poetic and creates such an intense atmosphere it's easy to be sucked into the a
Oct 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: it-got-signed
So good, that I stayed up past 1am on a school night to finish it!

As always, Deirdre's lyrical style just draws you in. Having a vague familiarity with the other stories we come by, but the same feelings of doubt or injustice that the narrator feels is not only vindicating, but serves to lessen the hurt of the curse that must be suffered. We've been here before. It's not fair, and no one necessarily EARNED it, but we can fight back in our own ways, come to terms with old enemies, and they might
Dec 29, 2020 rated it liked it
(view spoiler)

The writing style reminds me a bit of keeping a journal.
The whole story is told through Aife's eyes, however using the knowledge and emotions that she discovered in the end of the story. This, however, made me pass the whole book searching for a reason why she is telling this story. I found no purpose but only in the very end and I don't believe this justifies the long narrations , void
Clare Robertson
Dec 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Perfect for fans of Circe and Song of Achilles (especially Song of Achilles, it’s not for the faint hearted) this is an absolutely stunning book. The writing throughout is beautiful, the characters are so complex and I loved the way Sullivan approached myth and the Irish language. It was as fascinating as it was gorgeous. It’s also one of the few (perhaps the only!) books I’ve ever read that have pulled themselves up to a 5* from a 4* in only the last chapters. This book will stay with you a lon ...more
Jan 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
The poetry and prose in this book are nothing short of masterpieces. Sullivan paints a searing portrait of a legendary evil stepmother figure that is complex and provokes sympathy, but never softens, defends or equivocates. If you’re going to read any contemporary retelling of Irish mythology, let it be this.
Jan 03, 2021 rated it liked it
A solid 3.5, with beautiful prose and poetry - but too much monologue and not enough meaty scenes for me. Especially near the beginning, it describes psychological drama instead of letting the reader actually witness it. Describes it beautifully, but still.
Dec 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library
I would try to write a review but I’m also crying right now
Sinéad O'Neill
Oct 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant. A great retelling on the children of Lir.
Jan 08, 2021 rated it did not like it
dnf'd ...more
Niamh Lusson
Dec 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020-reads
4.5 stars
Jan 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Amazing and poetic retelling of a classic Irish myth, Sullivan has a way with words for sure.
Stacey Woods
Sep 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I am very much at home for the work of Deirdre Sullivan – quite frankly she could write a shopping list and I would absorb it – so it is a privilege to read Savage Her Reply, a book that was two years in the making.

This retelling of The Children of Lir is told from Aife’s point of view – traditionally she has been the villain of the piece – and reframes it as the story of a young woman in pain. Not being very familiar with The Children of Lir, I read a summary of the tale after reading this book
Alaleh Arjmandi
rated it really liked it
Sep 22, 2020
rated it really liked it
Dec 13, 2020
Lauren (Northern Plunder)
rated it it was amazing
Oct 03, 2020
rated it it was amazing
Oct 01, 2020
rated it really liked it
Oct 04, 2020
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • A Ghost In The Throat
  • After the Silence
  • Mexican Gothic
  • Third Witch
  • OK, Let's Do Your Stupid Idea
  • A Good Girl's Guide to Murder (A Good Girl's Guide to Murder, #1)
  • The One and Only Bob
  • Beloved
  • The Pull of the Stars
  • The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War
  • As You Were
  • The Silent Wife (Will Trent, #10)
  • Gods of Jade and Shadow
  • Fence, Vol. 1
  • Check, Please! Book 1: # Hockey
  • Strange Flowers
  • Other Words for Smoke
  • Will Grayson, Will Grayson
See similar books…
Deirdre Sullivan is from Galway. She enjoys acting, reading, writing, crafting and day-dreaming about the viking who will one day recue her from her life of drudgery. Also cake. She really, really does enjoy cake.

Related Articles

If you like books about queer kids falling in love and having adventures, you're in for quite the treat this month. June brings a great...
49 likes · 38 comments
“Perhaps I am a dark, unpleasant creature. But I am my own creature. I am mine, my feet on the earth and the water in my soul and fire in my heart. And when all is taken from me I will still have my anger and my pain and they will feed me.” 0 likes
More quotes…