Spies: Ireland’s War of Independence.

Written by Brian Gallagher
Review by Mike Ashworth

September 1920, Ireland. Spies tells the story of the War of Independence through the eyes of three children who are thrown together despite their opposing viewpoints. Fourteen-year-old orphan Johnny Dunne is a spy working for Michael Collins in the secret, but deadly, war against British Intelligence. Stella Radcliffe is the daughter of a British officer, who risks her life at the start of the book to save Johnny’s. While Alice Goodman is their friend and confidante. Johnny leaves his two friends in Balbriggan and moves to Dublin on the direct instructions of Collins, where he engages in a deadly game of cat and mouse with the dreaded Black and Tans. Then a secret from Johnny’s past changes everything, and the three friends must decide where their loyalties lie.

With a strong plot and well-defined, strong central characters, this is an exciting story for young adults. The violence carried out by both sides is presented in a realistic, but non-graphic way. Dublin author, Brian Gallagher, engages readers aged 10 plus in the story of a turbulent part of Irish history in a way which brings it alive. Recommended.