Book Review: The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney

The Glorious Heresies…

About the Book:

A big, bold debut from a true new Irish talent.

WINNER OF THE BAILEYS’ WOMEN’S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2016

WINNER OF THE DESMOND ELLIOT PRIZE 2016

We all do stupid things when we’re kids.

Ryan Cusack’s grown up faster than most – being the oldest of six with a dead mum and an alcoholic dad will do that for you.

And nobody says Ryan’s stupid. Not even behind his back.

It’s the people around him who are the problem. The gangland boss using his dad as a ‘cleaner’. The neighbour who says she’s trying to help but maybe wants something more than that. The prostitute searching for the man she never knew she’d miss until he disappeared without trace one night . . .

The only one on Ryan’s side is his girlfriend Karine. If he blows that, he’s all alone.

But the truth is, you don’t know your own strength till you need it.


My Thoughts:

It begins with a death. A body that needs to be taken care of. A clean up job. And from there, it’s six degrees of separation in action.

“The frame around which one builds one’s life is a brittle thing, and in a city of souls connected one snapped beam can threaten the spikes and shadows of the skyline.”

The Glorious Heresies is so very Irish, so much so, that in my head, the narration and dialogue was all fully done from start to finish with Irish accents. I have heard that the audio book is fabulous – I can believe it. The story itself is utterly brilliant and wickedly hilarious.

“He watched his father’s pallor wash out against the smudged eggshell blue of the kitchen walls, and couldn’t decide whether it was the right tone at last that had done it, or the right words or the right height or the right criminal trajectory. Or the right emergency. What the name of the magic trick was that turned Tony Cusack from one kind of man to no man at all.”

This is not a book though that would suit everyone. It’s brutal, violent, seedy, and full of swearing. It depicts a world that many want to turn away from, pretending that it doesn’t exist, that those people don’t exist. But for all this, it’s not gratuitous, and the author makes some very salient points throughout this story about the state of Ireland, its criminal underbelly, the fate of its youth, and the legacy of its own history.

“‘I’m probably not what you expected in a mother.’ He shrugged. ‘I’m probably not what you expected in a son,’ he said, but only because he felt he had to. That he wasn’t what anyone would expect in a son was not a revelation. She was right, though. Maybe you get the mother you deserve.”

This is a story that demonstrates how blood is almost always thicker than water, even in the direst of circumstances and even when you wish you weren’t related to who you’re needing to protect. It’s also a story about how people get caught up in something, the cycle of living in a certain way that becomes near on impossible to break. There is a sequel and I will be reading it. Thanks to Kate from booksaremyfavouriteandbest for hustling me to get this off my shelf with her books of the decade list. I can see why it had a place on there! If you loved Boy Swallows Universe and Trainspotting, then grab a copy of this one. Brilliant reading.

“‘I did it for you. For the very same reason you did what you did: you do what you have to for family. How can I be sorry, then? How can I be sorry when I did it for you?’”

☕☕☕☕☕


About the Author:

Lisa McInerney’s work has featured in Winter Papers, Stinging Fly, Granta and on BBC Radio 4, and in the anthologies Beyond The Centre, The Long Gaze Back and Town and Country. Her debut novel, The Glorious Heresies, won the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2016 and the Desmond Elliott Prize. Her second novel, The Blood Miracles, was published by John Murray in April 2017.


The Glorious Heresies
Published by Hachette Australia – Imprint John Murray
Released April 2016

6 thoughts on “Book Review: The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney

  1. So glad you loved it (as you said, it’s not for everyone!).
    I bought the sequel as soon as I finished Glorious but still haven’t read it – was worried it wouldn’t be as good. It’s probably been a long enough gap now, so I must read it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I would not have known about Glorious Heresies but for your review. Thank you. I read it and The Blood Miracles in quick succession and both are brilliant. The Blood Miracles is a more structured novel and concentrates mainly on Ryan Cusack which seemed to disappoint some reviewers. I am in complete awe of the depth of character development. Despite his flaws, Ryan Cusack is still in my head over a week after finishing the book and I have wasted so much time scouring the internet for mention of when the third book will be published.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so glad you found a couple of new books from the review! I haven’t read The Blood Miracles yet, I had seen some reviews that were disappointed and others that thought it was brilliant. I’ll have to read it soon and see what I think. It must have been good if it’s left you wanting more!

      Liked by 1 person

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