Title: The Innocents
Author: Michael Crummey
Publisher: No Exit Press
Publication Date: 20th August 2020
In centuries past, a brother and sister are orphaned in an isolated outport cove on Newfoundland’s northern coastline. Their home is a stretch of rocky shore governed by the feral ocean and a relentless pendulum of abundance and murderous scarcity. Still children with only the barest notion of the outside world, they have nothing but their family’s boat and the little knowledge passed on haphazardly by their mother and father to help them survive.
Muddling through the severe round of the seasons, through years of meagre catches and storms and ravaging illness, it is their fierce loyalty to each other that motivates and sustains them. But as seasons pass and they wade deeper into the mystery of their own natures, even that loyalty will be tested.
The Innocents is an incredibly original book. I’ve truthfully never read anything like it and I’m really glad I had the chance to experience such an unusual book. The story follows Ada and Evered, a brother and sister living in an extremely isolated cove in Newfoundland. They are forced to grow up before their time after the abrupt death of their parents and baby sister. They have to find a way to cope with the intensity of the environment and find the strength to sustain themselves with very little assistance. They also have to contend with what it means to live with each other in such a close manner and with the changes to their relationship that this precipitates.
The Innocents is not what I would call an easy read, at least at first. The unusual language and turn of phrase does take some thought and getting used to but I really think it’s worth it. Once you are into the rhythm of the style of the book, it is an immersive and fascinating reading experience. This is an intense read with some pretty harrowing and brutal moments. The power of nature and the wilderness is evoked beautifully. It shows how much of a struggle it can be to survive in a place seemingly untouched by most of humanity.
The relationship between Ada and Evered is the main force of The Innocents. It takes some dark and unexpected turns which are at times difficult to read. However Crummey has a subtlety and mystical quality to his writing which manages to keep the reader connected to the fate of these two siblings. They almost seem to be on another plane of existence to the rest of the world, hence perhaps the Adam and Eve connection. Their lives have an otherworldliness which adds to the strange and sometimes disquieting tone of this novel. There is a lot left unsaid and unresolved in The Innocents, many aspects are not entirely explained or justified but I actually quite liked this slightly meandering, loose feeling which heightened the atmosphere of the book effectively. I don’t think this book will be to everyone’s tastes, it is quite odd at times, but I do think there is a quiet beauty to the writing and an insular feeling to the story which will leave quite an impression.
Thank you so much to Anne Cater of Random Things Blog Tours for inviting me on this tour and organising it. I kindly received a copy of the book from the publisher. My review is my own honest opinion.
Please also check out the rest of the tour and this fantastic sounding author event:
Join critically acclaimed authors Emma Donoghue and Michael Crummey as they discuss their brilliant new novels with award-winning author and journalist Erica Wagner. 27 Aug @ 8.15pm Register for free: