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Summary and book reviews of Red Sky in Morning by Paul Lynch

Red Sky in Morning

by Paul Lynch

Red Sky in Morning
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  • First Published:
    Nov 2013, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2014, 304 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Naomi Benaron

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About this Book

Book Summary

Language and landscape combine powerfully in this tense exploration of life and death, parts of which are based on historical events. A visceral and meditative novel that marks the debut of a stunning new talent.

A tense, thrilling debut novel that spans two continents, from "a writer to watch out for" (Colum McCann).

It's 1832 and Coll Coyle has killed the wrong man. The dead man's father is an expert tracker and ruthless killer with a single-minded focus on vengeance. The hunt leads from the windswept bogs of County Donegal, across the Atlantic to the choleric work camps of the Pennsylvania railroad, where both men will find their fates in the hardship and rough country of the fledgling United States.

Language and landscape combine powerfully in this tense exploration of life and death, parts of which are based on historical events. With lyrical prose balancing the stark realities of the hunter and the hunted, Red Sky in Morning is a visceral and meditative novel that marks the debut of a stunning new talent.

Part I

Night sky was black and then there was blood, morning crack of light on the edge of the earth. The crimson spill sent the bright stars to fade, hills stepping out of shadow and clouds finding flesh. First rain of day from a soundless sky and music it made of the land. The trees let slip the mantle of darkness, stretched themselves, fingers of leaves shivering in the breeze, red then goldening rays of light catching. The rain stopped and he heard the birds wake. They blinked and shook their heads and scattered song upon the sky. The land, old and tremulous, turned slowly towards the rising sun.

Coll Coyle was tight with rage and could not admit he was afraid. For hours he watched with dread the creeping birth of morning. Wobbled glass bending the Carnarvan dawn in rivulets of shifting purple, the slow retreat of numb shadow from the walls. He could not speak for a great bank of sorrow.

He lay awake most of the night, dreams snaking shallow and tormented so that for a moment ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. How does Bradford portray racial prejudice? How do relations among different ethnic groups in Sagrado differ from those in Mobile? What is the significance of--and some of the confusions and consequences related to--Steenie's classification of people in Sagrado as Anglo, Native, and Indian?
  2. How would you describe Josh's father and his relationship with his son? What role does Frank Arnold play in Josh's life? Are his presence at the novel's beginning and his few letters to Josh sufficient to establish and maintain his presence as a force in Josh's life?
  3. Are Bradford's "Native" characters--the Montoyas, Sheriff Chamaco, Chango Lopez, and others--fully realized individuals? To what extent do they provide a clear understanding of the life,...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

To crack open the cover of Paul Lynch’s debut novel, Red Sky in Morning, and read the first paragraph is to hear the beginning notes of an old melody, resonant and echoing from an ancient landscape. The language seems to come from a time before the written word. It is sonorous, mystical and mythical, and with its forceful cadence, its vivid, startling imagery and word order, the reader is pulled immediately inside the dream.   (Reviewed by Naomi Benaron).

Full Review Members Only (842 words).

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Lynch's prose is sharply observed, and his themes are elemental and powerful: the violence of existence, the illusion of choice in a fatalistic universe.

Booklist

This is strong stuff by a promising young author.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. Lynch's poetic prose is gorgeous. He lovingly crafts every sentence.

The Examiner

Muscular and opulent... the novel is ripe with spookily vivid writing. A very stylishly written book that takes the Irish novel into quite a different genre.

The Sunday Times (UK)

A cracking debut novel. Paul Lynch's startling, evocative prose veers closer to poetry.... This novel is a wonderful achievement.

The Irish Times

A compulsive read.... A combination of the poetic and the vicious. It unabashedly uses a 21st-century sensibility to subvert the conventions of the 'historical' novel.

Author Blurb Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin
Paul Lynch has a sensational gift for a sentence, inherited from the likes of Cormac McCarthy, Sebastian Barry, and Daniel Woodrell. He is a writer to watch out for, staking a bid for a territory all his own.

Author Blurb Sebastian Barry, author of The Secret Scripture
This book makes the literary synapses spark and burn - forged in his own new and wonderful language, Paul Lynch reaches to the root, branch and bole of things, and unfurls a signal masterpiece.

Author Blurb Daniel Woodrell, author of Winter's Bone and The Outlaw Album
Paul Lynch takes a giant first step with his debut, Red Sky in Morning. It is classic storytelling, rough and haunted people and the times that made them, powerfully conjured, written in language that demands attention.

Reader Reviews

Anna

Wonderful novel -Red Sky in Morning
The story is suspenseful and the writing is beautiful. This was one of my favourites of the year.

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Beyond the Book

The Mystery of Duffy's Cut

Duffy's Cut granite block enclosureBefore 2004, hikers passing through the woods in Chester County, Pennsylvania in the vicinity of Malvern would have encountered a granite block enclosure with no identifying marker. Perhaps they would have puzzled a moment before walking on. Perhaps they would have heard an odd sound or even caught a glimpse of a specter dancing on the earth, as local lore has it that ghosts inhabit this stretch of the old Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad. In any case, the oddity of the enclosure in an otherwise empty stretch of woods may have led them to wonder about its story.

The story begins in Ireland, in June of 1832. The majority of the Irish population is suffering. Poor and largely living on land rented from English and "Anglo-Irish" ...

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