Book Review: After the Silence by Louise O’Neill

I run this blog as a hobby, because I love reading and I want to share books with the world. I never had any inclination that it would make me “famous” or anything. However, there was one instance recently where I thought “I’ve made it”. When I got an advanced copy from one of my absolute favourite authors.

Goodreads Blurb

After the Silence by Louise O’Neill

Nessa Crowley’s murderer has been protected by silence for ten years. Until a team of documentary makers decide to find out the truth.

On the day of Henry and Keelin Kinsella’s wild party at their big house a violent storm engulfed the island of Inisrun, cutting it off from the mainland. When morning broke Nessa Crowley’s lifeless body lay in the garden, her last breath silenced by the music and the thunder.

The killer couldn’t have escaped Inisrun, but on-one was charged with the murder. The mystery that surrounded the death of Nessa remained hidden. But the islanders knew who to blame for the crime that changed them forever.

Ten years later a documentary crew arrives, there to lift the lid off the Kinsella’s carefully constructed lives, determined to find evidence that will prove Henry’s guilt and Keelin’s complicity in the murder of beautiful Nessa.

In this bold, brilliant, disturbing new novel Louise O’Neill shows that deadly secrets are devastating to those who hold them close.

After the Silence Book Cover

Review

Another book that I devoured in 24 hours. For those of you who are fans of Louise O’Neill, After the Silence is different from her other books – but don’t doubt that it’s an absolute smasher. Let’s start with the book’s characters. Each of the main characters (Keelin, Henry, Alex) is well-developed, which of course means that I changed my mind many times regarding what they had or hadn’t done. While I didn’t hate any of the character per se, none were very likeable, especially Henry. This includes Nessa for me. I don’t necessarily think the author set out for everybody to love Nessa but she did a great job in showing how people often anglicise someone after they have died.

Of course, having unlikeable characters also means that the story is always intriguing, and the way the plot was unravelled had me always wanting to read one more page. Plus, I enjoyed reading about this small island off the coast of Ireland. The author really captured what it’s like to live in a small place in Ireland (gossip, judgement, people know your business) and the descriptions of the island really added to the eeriness of the case.

But After the Silence is not just a story about a murder. It also focused on the topic of domestic abuse. This tough topic was well researched and handled with care. What I found best about it is how it showed that domestic abuse isn’t just about violence; psychological abuse can be just as damaging. The book was also very supportive of women and the author’s passion for feminism was strongly at play. In this book we see strong, independent women, although for some characters, it might not seem that way at first. We also see the varying ways women are controlled not just by the men in their lives but society as a whole. For instance, as Nessa’s case plays out in the media we see how Henry is allowed to age but Keelin is criticised for doing the same thing (as if it were a choice).

In my eyes, Louise O’Neill can do no wrong. I really loved this book and hope you will too.

After the Silence was published by Quercus Publishing in September 2020.

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