by Anthony Conty (Parkville, MD): “Prophet Song” by Paul Lynch would seem like a novel stunt if many award-winning Irish books did not seem similar. There are not many paragraph breaks and quotation marks here. You get the point of dystopian suffering even when unsure what is happening. Although this is fiction, it echoes the complicated fears of the Irish today.

Eilish Stack is a typical Irish wife and mother. Still, her husband is a trade unionist for the country’s workers, a controversial position that results in his sudden capture and eerie interrogation. Ireland descends into chaos and confusion, and the author has the challenge of projecting the nation’s bewilderment without confusing the readers. Their leaders are paranoid, vicious, and suffocating.

There is a lot of detailed setup and character development, but I was most interested in the main plot’s story arc: this woman living without her husband and at risk of losing her son. Eilish hangs onto the past because nothing about their future seems promising.

History reminds us that The Troubles eventually improved, but we do not see it coming here in Dystopia. The echoes of modern culture, where doubt and skepticism surround news from specific sources, resonate strongly. When the government controls information, confusion reigns. The depiction of war from within adds an extra layer of mayhem, mirroring the complexities of our world. The perspective of an innocent resident creates a palpable sense of claustrophobia, drawing the reader into the narrative.

The writing style, characterized by long sentences and much longer paragraphs, may initially feel overwhelming. However, it quickly immerses you in the narrative, intensifying the sense of loss and bewilderment. This is not a book for those seeking an easy, low-key read. The subject matter and writing quirks ensure a challenging, thought-provoking experience.