This is a review that I don’t know how to write. This is a book that I don’t know how to describe. Moïra is an author that I don’t know how to praise. This story. Just wow.
I was sent this book by the publisher in return for an honest review. I was also subsequently invited to take part in the blog tour.
⚠️ Homophobia from the start, sexism, discussions of rape, child abuse, violence, abortion & the illegality of abortion in Ireland, child death, & other themes that may cause upset ⚠️
The day after the funeral all our mourning clothes hung out on the line like sleeping bats. ‘This will be really embarrassing,’ I kept saying to my family, ‘when she shows up at the door in a week or two.’
When Deena’s wild and mysterious sister Mandy disappears – presumed dead – her family are heartbroken. But Mandy has always been troubled. It’s just another bad thing to happen to Deena’s family. Only Deena refuses to believe it’s true.
And then the letters start arriving. Letters from Mandy, claiming that their family’s blighted history is not just bad luck or bad decisions – but a curse, handed down through the generations. Mandy has gone in search of the curse’s roots, and now Deena must find her. What they find will heal their family’s rotten past – or rip it apart forever.
All The Bad Apples starts off as a story where a girl is grieving for her dead sister. It’s morphs into a adventure to find a sister that’s probably dead, but not definitely so. This book then changes into a book that educates about the hardship that women have faced, namely in Ireland, but also globally, throughout history. I’m drafting this review at 2:00am, having just finished reading & I am stumped. I knew from reading Spellbook of the Lost & Found that this book would be more complex than it appeared on the surface, but despite that, it still took me by surprise. There were moments where I was sure I knew what twists were coming, but I was wrong every time. Moïra has created such an incredible story, & I completely adored it.
The characters in this story are wonderfully real & wonderfully diverse. They’re also all mainly women. Main character Deena is a girl on a mission who is falling apart, she is desperate, suffering & possibly losing her mind. Deena isn’t your typical strong, feisty female lead, but she is fierce, in a myriad of ways. Deena’s family & the friends she takes on her adventure with her all have had a deep background built up for them (although I wish we knew more about Finn as I felt he was the only character who wasn’t as fleshed out as the others – however, this could be because he’s not a woman) & I love that so much of this book is the made up history of a family of bad apples.
The history that we get to experience in this book has made me hungry for a detailed historical fiction story. It’s also made me want to research my own family in the hope of finding stories as incredible as the ones included in this book. Only half of this book involved serious (historical) world-building, but it was done so well & it was so easy to see things in my mind. I didn’t want to put this story down, I didn’t want to leave the Ireland within the pages of this book, even though I knew/know there’s a fair chance of nightmares. This isn’t a horror story though, not even slightly, it is so, so much more than that.
I can’t talk about the plot of this book without giving things away, but if you pick up this book prepare to travel around Ireland, in time & in space. Prepare to see shadows out of the corner of yours eyes & prepare to feel like you’re being watched. But also prepare to be left deep in thought over the last few pages. Be prepared to feel angry (something that Moïra intended her readers to feel) & be prepared for that anger to come out of nowhere. It was only at the end that I felt truly angry; but I realise now that Moïra was making me angry without me even realising it, I realise that I was angry every time we met a new woman in Deena’s family – I was just so distracted by the plot that I didn’t realise.
I read most of this book in one go & that’s because I couldn’t stop the journey that Moïra & Deena were taking me on. I had to keep going, & I felt myself becoming as desperate as Deena. To have been sent an arc of this story feels like an honour, & to have my copy signed & personalised is a dream. I just wish I’d read the book before meeting Moïra, so I could’ve tried to tell her how incredible it was.
Moïra Fowley-Doyle is half-French, half-Irish and made of equal parts feminism, whimsy and Doc Martens. She lives in Dublin where she writes magic realism, reads tarot cards and raises witch babies.
Moïra’s first novel, The Accident Season, was shortlisted for the 2015 Waterstones Children’s Book Prize & the North East Teen Book Awards, nominated for the Carnegie Medal & won the inaugural School Library Association of Ireland Great Reads Award. It received two starred reviews & sold in ten territories. Her second novel, Spellbook of the Lost and Found, was published in summer 2017, received a starred review from School Library Journal and was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards.
You can find her website here.
Win (1) of (3) copies of ALL THE BAD APPLES
The Unofficial Addiction Book Fan Club – Welcome Post
The Book Bratz – Interview
We Live and Breathe Books – Review
In Between Book Pages – Review + Favourite Quotes
Rants and Raves of a Bibliophile – Review + Favourite Quotes
Bookish Looks – Promotional Post
The Bibliophile Chronicles – Review
The Baroness of Books – Review + Favourite Quotes
Story-eyed Reviews – Review
Sometimes Leelynn Reads – Review + Playlist + Dream Cast
Confessions of a YA Reader – Promotional Post
Find the emoji-key here.