Shadows in Heaven (The Tarabeg Series)

Written by Nadine Dorries
Review by Eileen Charbonneau

In this novel, part of a three-book saga set in post-World War II rural western Ireland, long, deep shadows of their Celtic past, the Great Hunger, the Rebellion and the recent war linger in the hearts and minds of the tiny town of Tarabeg. Young Michael Malone is the only soldier returning from the war alive. He finds his patient sweetheart at a moment of crisis in her life: she’s escaping a murderous father and the Traveller (Tinker, part of the Roma population) husband he’s chosen for her. Sarah’s life then takes a charmed turn as she marries and starts a family. She and Michael become prosperous store owners. But the looming curse of the Travellers she’s defied is ever-present until tragedy strikes again.

Thick with atmosphere, stories and magic, rural Tarabeg is full of lively, lusty inhabitants who seem to exist within the mists of time, even as changes (modernity, tourism) are happening all around them. The central characters are compelling, as are the turns of plot. Unfortunately, I found this novel deeply marred by perpetrating the stereotype of Travellers as evil child stealers, an anti-Roma prejudice reflecting fear, not reality.