‘Cath is worried about her friends. DanDan is struggling with the death of his ex, Lucy is drinking way too much and Steph has become closed off. A weekend away is just what they need, so they travel out to Rockadoon Lodge, in the wilds of the west of Ireland.
But the weekend doesn’t go to plan. JJ is more concerned with getting high than spending time with them, while Merc is humiliated and seeks revenge. And with long-ignored tensions now out in the open, their elderly neighbour Malachy arrives on their doorstep with a gun in his hands…’
I’m going to be honest, this book first came to my attention via Tumblr. I’m a huge fan of the actor Domhnall Gleeson and when I found out his brother Rory had published his debut novel I was intrigued. I read the blurb and thought it looked interesting and since my bookshelf of books to read had died down to only 3 shelves I thought why not add to that? So I ordered it online and put it straight to the top of my list and, to be frank, I absolutely loved it. I read the entire book cover to cover in one sitting and felt so completely enthralled and taken in by the unique and complex characters.
The novel focuses on a weekend away a group of 6 friends take to a cottage in the country. Here they plan to get absolutely wasted and have a good time together, taking it easy and having a relaxed weekend. But, apparently when you take selfish, entitled people in their early twenties and add copious amounts of alcohol tensions will inevitably begin to rise. It’s only after numerous arguments and a few stressful situations that the friends begin to drift apart and realise that actually they don’t really even like each other. What was particularly interesting for me was the reactions to the friends had when things seemed to go wrong. DanDan got self righteous and blamed everyone other than himself. JJ got angry and then introverted and depressive. Cath got angry and then pensive and thoughtful. Steph became defensive and closed off. Lucy drank and relied on others (DanDan and Steph) while Merc just ran away.
One of the great strengths of the novel is the dynamics between these young characters and how that plays out under pressure. The conflict between JJ and Merc and Cath and DanDan creates some of the most memorable scenes and really helps to drive the plot along at a great pace. The jealousy at the heart of both of those tensions is really key to understanding all four characters and why this weekend marks such a huge change for them. The development in each of their characters provides almost a complete u-turn for them and creates the drama. Cath starts out as caring for everyone else and learns she needs to put herself first. JJ realises his superficial life isn’t really satisfying him. Merc comes to the realisation that he’s not as brave and strong as he assumed he was and that he cares about others opinions of him far more than he thought while DanDan goes from being introverted in his grief to only caring about his own feelings as he emerges from the other side and, for lack of a better word, turning into a complete fuckboy.
But I have to say, Malachy was the character that I was the most interested in. His quiet and lonely existence perfectly matches his calm surroundings which is then disrupted and sent spiraling into chaos at the arrival of the young people. The flashes of his history that his temporary neighbours draw forth are both revealing and intriguing and make him by far the most interesting character to me. His pitiful demise was, for me, the only part of the book that jarred with me as I fully expected at least one of the young people to die and when they all survived I felt a little let down.
But, in the end I did really love this novel and I had a great time reading it. It was incredibly interesting and really drew me in for the entire length of the story. I can definitely see it as being one of my standout books of the year and definitely one I would recommend.