Source: Purchased copy
Publication: 5TH July 2018 from Polygon
What happens when you fall in love with the wrong person?
The consequences threaten to be far-reaching and potentially deadly. Bone Deep is a contemporary novel of sibling rivalry, love, betrayal and murder. It is a dual narrative, told in alternative chapters by Mac, a woman bent on keeping the secrets of the past from her only son, and the enigmatic Lucie, whose own past is something of a closed book. Their story is underpinned by the creaking presence of an abandoned water mill, and haunted by the local legend of two long-dead sisters, themselves rivals in love, and ready to point an accusing finger from the pages of history.
Sandra Ireland uses description beautifully to create the damp, mouldy, something-not-quite-right-here setting of an old mill into which Lucie, somewhat resembling a startled faun, arrives one day.
Lucie has flown her family house, pretty much booted out by her mother, after being discovered in an illicit relationship. Not just an illicit relationship but one that undermines the whole basis of family relationships.
So she takes a job with the somewhat eccentric Mac, a historian who specialises in the re-telling of old folk tales and capturing them before the verbal versions are lost to time. Lucie is there to be her Girl Friday, typing up the stories, making sure Mac has what she needs and generally keeping an eye on her health. In return she gets a stipend and a cottage on the mill grounds to live in.
Lucie’s story runs parallel to one which Mac has become obsessed with, that of two daughters to a King and the more we find out, the more we can see that that this story has meaning for both Lucie and Mac.
As Sandra Ireland’s beautiful prose unfolds we see that this is a story of family secrets that come back to haunt us and how history repeats itself as past and present become blurred in Mac’s mind.
Ireland builds a slow but darkening sense of unease and suspense as this Gothic tale becomes more macabre and the old mill takes on a character of its own as the story reaches a terrible conclusion.
Verdict: A story of love, betrayal and family secrets beautifully told.
About Sandra Ireland
Sandra Ireland was born in Yorkshire, lived for many years in Limerick, and is now based in Scotland. She began her writing career as a correspondent on a local newspaper but quickly realised that fiction is much more intriguing than fact. She returned to higher education her 40s, to study for undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at Dundee University. In 2016 she won Creative Scotland funding for a residency at Barry Mill, a National Trust for Scotland property. Her debut novel Beneath
the Skin was published by Polygon in 2016.
Follow Sandra on Twitter @22_ireland