The Butchers' Blessing: Book summary and reviews of The Butchers' Blessing by Ruth Gilligan

The Butchers' Blessing

by Ruth Gilligan

The Butchers' Blessing by Ruth Gilligan X
The Butchers' Blessing by Ruth Gilligan
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  • Published in USA  Nov 2020
    312 pages
    Genre: Thrillers

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Book Summary

Set in the gothic wilds of Ireland, The Butchers' Blessing is a haunting and unforgettable thriller brimming with secrecy, tradition, and superstition.

Every year, Úna prepares for her father to leave her. He will wave goodbye early one morning, then disappear with seven other men to traverse the Irish countryside. Together, these men form the Butchers, a group that roams from farm to farm, enacting ancient methods of cattle slaughter.

The Butchers' Blessing moves between the events of 1996 and the present, offering a simmering glimpse into the modern tensions that surround these eight fabled men. For Úna, being a Butcher's daughter means a life of tangled ambition and incredible loneliness. For her mother, Grá, it's a life of faith and longing, of performing a promise that she may or may not be able to keep. For nonbeliever Fionn, the Butchers represent a dated and complicated reality, though for his son, Davey, they represent an entirely new world―and potentially new love. For photographer Ronan, the Butchers are ideal subjects: representatives of an older, more folkloric Ireland whose survival is now being tested. As he moves through the countryside, Ronan captures this world image by image―a lake, a cottage, and his most striking photo: a man, hung upside down in a pose of unspeakable violence.

Thrilling, dark, and richly atmospheric, The Butchers' Blessing is an engrossing incantation―mesmerizing in both language and story―conjuring a family and a country on the edge of irrevocable change.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[R]emarkable...As the desperate protagonists discover how far they will go for their desires, their stories illuminate the power of myth, the tensions between past and present, and the weight of family expectations. With beautifully crafted prose, suspenseful plotting, and imaginative scope, Gilligan's off to a blazing start." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"[T]he strength here is not the richness of the characters...but the richness of the world. It's an atmospheric portrait of a country at a crossroads, moving away from the traditional ways and toward a slick new millennial future. Thoroughly lovely. Cattle have never been so riveting." - Kirkus Reviews

"A gripping tale of menace and foreboding." - Booklist

"Grips throughout, offering a vivid portrait of one of Ireland's less heralded corners." - The Guardian

"Masterful." - The Irish Times

"Flawlessly, intricately plotted, with such a compelling central mystery that I binged it like a Netflix show...Stunning." - Luke Kennard, author of The Transition

"I was hooked from the first page. It was an exhilarating, unsettling reading experience: I felt at once like an outsider and completely at home as I read and was at all times completely immersed and wowed at Ruth's storytelling prowess." - Donal Ryan, author of From a Low and Quiet Sea

"Gilligan braids beauty and brutality together in a seamless literary thriller. With plot twists worthy of Tana French and language reminiscent of Téa Obreht, this young Irish writer has crafted a story that is dark, wild, mythic, unsuspecting, and absolutely riveting." - Colum McCann, author of Apeirogon

This information about The Butchers' Blessing shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Ruth Gilligan

Ruth Gilligan is a graduate of Cambridge and Yale, and now works as a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham. She contributes regular literary reviews to the Guardian, Los Angeles Review of Books, Irish Independent, and the Times Literary Supplement.

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