rosamund's Reviews > Perfectly Preventable Deaths

Perfectly Preventable Deaths by Deirdre Sullivan
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it was amazing
bookshelves: irish-lit, lgbt, fantasy, ya

Deirdre Sullivan's prose is so unique and so beautiful that I would follow her anywhere: if she chose to write a book about angling, say, or a carpentry manual, I'd still read it. Thankfully Perfectly Preventable Deaths, a witchy tale set in rural Ireland, is exactly what I want to read anyway. Sullivan chooses words precisely; her sentences often have the rhythm of blank verse. Yet they're unfussy, capturing the cadence of speech, and her images, while arresting, don't draw attention to themselves. She has an eye for the beauty and strangeness of the world, and an ear for dialect and humour. While this story is dark, and full of the atmosphere of a haunted house, it's also thoroughly modern, referring to gifs and memes, and alive with jokes. The story centres on twins: Madeline and Catlin, who have moved to Ballyfrann after their mother remarries. The isolated village in Galway is unwelcoming, and full of memories of death: girls have been murdered in the mountains surrounding it, little dead animals find their way under the characters' feet, wild animals are tortured in the woods.

This is a chilling story. At times, it felt too grisly for the YA genre, and pushed the boundaries of what I felt comfortable reading. But Sullivan handles the darkness carefully, and it's certainly not just there for kicks. It's a passionately feminist novel, about the dangers young women face, and contains a long list of names of the girls who have died: Sullivan is determined to give her young women a name, and their names become a litany that gives the characters power to overcome evil. The story is also an exploration into witches, and what it means to be a witch or wise woman, and it's a story about discovering yourself, and discovering love. Madeline learns that she's a witch and a lesbian as the novel progresses, and both elements of herself bring her power.

The ending is satisfying, but certainly leaves the plot room to grow, which I very much hope it does!
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Reading Progress

May 2, 2019 – Shelved
May 2, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read
June 14, 2019 – Started Reading
June 17, 2019 – Shelved as: irish-lit
June 17, 2019 – Shelved as: lgbt
June 17, 2019 – Shelved as: fantasy
June 17, 2019 – Shelved as: ya
June 17, 2019 – Finished Reading

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