Book Review His Rising by Suzanne Byrne

Eoin Meegan

In this time travel novel, events around Easter 1916 in Dublin are seamlessly integrated with 21st century settings. We meet Kate, an online blogger from Chicago who is about to make her first trip to Ireland to discover her roots, namely where her grandmother came from.
However, events of dark doings and violence are presaged even before the journey begins, in the form of a strange dream Kate has. In the dream she is being chased down a laneway by some very angry looking men bearing firearms. Then, at the eleventh hour (a common trope in dreams and novels alike) she is rescued by a tall, handsome stranger.
However, the nightmare seems to follow her to Dublin when she makes her actual trip, in the form of people and events that belong more to the dream than reality.
First she meets someone who introduces himself as Ciaran and bears an uncanny resemblance to the man who came to her rescue in the dream. Following this is a mysterious woman in a bookshop who shows Kate a book on witchcraft (there is an interesting twist involving this lady at the end). Kate discovers she has something called ‘the Gift’, although she has no idea as to what that means or where exactly it could take her.
The reader, like Kate, is gradually shown more and more about this mysterious Gift, and learns of its potential powers. Finally, things take a dramatic twist when after a car accident Kate finds herself transformed back to 1916 where she is right in the centre of the preparations for insurrection. This time it isn’t a dream.
No book would be complete without romance, and an amorous affair awaits Kate back in the past when she meets and falls in love with Michael Byrne. Incidentally, Michael turns out to be the man from her dream, with Ciaran being some kind of avatar. A bit confusing? Yes, but it will all make sense when you read the book.
Byrne, whose ‘rising’ of the title it is, is a die-hard rebel and is in the process of trying to arrange a shipment of arms for the Rebels leading up to Easter week when the lovely Kate walks into his life, turning it upside down.
He is also on a secret mission for Countess Markievicz. All the time Kate is wondering how (or even if) she will get back to her own time, and Michael too is puzzled as to who his mysterious young woman is with whom he is so enamoured.
The writing moves at a fast pace, with each alternate chapter advancing Kate and Michael’s story. This technique allows the reader to experience the perspective of both protagonists’. Time travel is a genre that leaves scope for plenty of imaginative interplay, and the idea of placing the protagonist in actual real historical situations from the past has been popularised by writers like John Heldt (‘The Fire’).
Local Ringsend native Suzanne uses this technique skillfully here. She has now penned several novels in this vein, such as ‘Hidden in Time’ (Elizabethan mystery), ‘My Highland Laird’, ‘Legend of the Sword’, and ‘The Return of the Scottish Princess’ (Scottish romances). I’d like to have seen things pulled together more at the end, but it’s a very good read all the same, with plenty of unexpected twists and surprises.
So, if you like history, with a little bit of spookiness along the way, plenty of romance, including some adult content, then this book is certainly for you. And should you be planning on a staycation this year instead of heading off to Ibiza His Rising could be the perfect book to have beside you by the pool.
His Rising is published by Petrova and is available on Amazon, priced £9.99 paperback, or £5.99 download.