Liberty Boy

Written by David Gaughran
Review by Cindy Vallar

In the aftermath of the failed Rising of 1803, Jimmy O’Flaherty’s trading patch is usurped by the scaffold erected to hang the rebels. The purpose of such public executions is to force the remaining traitors into the open and entice neighbor to inform on neighbor. As far as Jimmy is concerned, rebellions are foolish and the hangings will just stir up support for a free Ireland—a fact the British never learn. He has one dream: to make enough money to leave with his mother and start life anew in America.

Among those present at the hangings is 19-year-old Kitty Doyle. She’s pretty, which makes Jimmy tongue-tied, which is probably just as well since she seems to be mixed up with the rebels. She suspects he might be an informer, and it’s her job to help root out the spies who have infiltrated the United Irishmen. She watches his clumsy attempts to sell his mother’s salve for bruises and sore muscles; seeing a way to learn the truth about him, she demonstrates the best way to sell the bottles. As they work together, their attraction grows. But he’s not staying and she’s not going.

The first book in the Liberty series, Liberty Boy is a riveting tale of an overlooked rebellion told from the perspective of the streets. Its unfolding is seamless except for a minor error where the final victim of the hangman’s noose has his hands bound behind his back and yet he grasps the rope choking his neck. But this flaw is eclipsed by gifted dialogue that is more heard than read and the unexpected twists that leave you breathless from first page to last. Intertwined throughout is a compelling ray of hope amid the misery and death.