• West Cork Literary Festival 2021

The Rules of Revelation by Lisa McInerney

Writing.ie | Book Reviews | General Fiction | Literary Fiction

By Swirl and Thread

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on whatsapp
Share on email

The Rules of Revelation by Lisa McInerney is the much awaited third book in what she calls her ‘unholy trinity’, following on from the brilliant The Glorious Heresies and The Blood Miracles. Published with John Murray Press, Kevin Barry describes it as having ‘all the crackle and verve and mad vivid life we’ve come to expect but it’s so open-hearted and warm, too, and utterly engrossing – it’s her best work to date, which is really saying something.’ This trilogy of books is set in my hometown of Cork and from the very beginning it is a series that I have become almost proud of, if that makes any sense. Although from Galway (we can forgive her that!) Lisa McInerney has an obvious grá (love) for Cork and a knowledge of its people that shines through in her writing, very much bringing the city alive.

I’ve been on a journey with Ryan Cusack since he first entered my radar when he was a young lad of fifteen. The eldest of six, the odds were stacked against Ryan. With his Italian mother dead and his father a raging alcoholic, and a runner for a gangland boss, Ryan sees the world very differently to other teenagers his age. He is angry with the hand dealt him but makes a decision that he will not be like his parents and will find a path through the chaos. Ryan chooses drug-dealing as an option, a way of amassing cash fast.

Ryan Cusack embarks on a journey riddled with violence and passion, one that puts his life in very precarious situations. But also he learns what to love someone really means. Lisa McInerney described The Glorious Heresies as a landscape and The Blood Miracles as a portrait, two very apt characterisations as we travel with Ryan from a teenager to a young adult. Now arriving back into Cork with the ambition of becoming a successful musician, Ryan has many demons to face. He has made lots of enemies over the years who will not be happy to see him back in the city. He has a young son with his now ex Karine but their relationship is not finished yet. Too much water has gone under the bridge for these two, their history is forever binding.

The Rules of Revelation is a redemptive story for Ryan Cusack, and for many other characters in this trilogy, as they find a path forward, a way to move on with their lives. Yet again Lisa McInerney transports the reader right into the streets of Cork with a real sense of place present at all times. The Cork black sense of humour filters through all three books in this series with Maureen Phelan, the matriarch of the story, really having her moments. Her antics, her opinions, her attitude make her a treasure, an iconic personality in the series. The Rules of Revelation also has a very meaningful edge to it. Less brutal than its predecessors, there is a feeling of coming home, a feeling of pride. This is our country. This is the city I live in. This is home.

“I think this is the most personal of my three novels, in that it’s about art, and making art when you don’t come from a background that actively encourages it, finding your voice in a world that you’re not entirely comfortable in. The novel is set in a newly confident Ireland, after those two huge referendums (marriage equality and abortion rights), and it was exciting to be able to pull the lens back a bit and focus on a version of Ireland that actually might allow my characters in, for a change… I wanted to celebrate how Ireland’s changed so fast for the better, and explore what that might mean for five stubborn and perceptive misfits, but equally I was driven to acknowledge genuine disparity, especially that between contemporary, commercialised feminism and working-class life, and focus on people on the periphery of feminism, either left behind by it, or not quite at peace with it as a movement or philosophy.” – Lisa McInerney

The Rules of Revelation offers a sense of closure to Ryan’s story but I’m hoping that someday Lisa McInerney might revisit Cork again and let us all know how the gang are getting on. There is talk of it hitting our TV screens at some stage which is seriously exciting news so I have everything crossed. Lisa McInerney writes characters that are unpolished, gritty and toughened by their surroundings, yet loyal to these surroundings right to their very core. Cork is known as The Rebel County. We like to call it The Real Capital of Ireland. We never like to be told what to do. We are fierce proud of our roots and I am in complete awe of Lisa McInerney’s ability to capture the spirit of Cork.

Audacious, authentic and absolutely bloody wonderful, all three books are individual yet expertly interwoven creating a remarkable picture of an Ireland in the midst of change. An intense reading experience, Lisa McInerney captures something very unique, something very special indeed.

“Proximity to danger is not something I feel with any consistency. I’ve sat in to cars with fellas who swore to kill me. I’ve stood over fat lines of coke and felt like my heart was going to burst and still crouched to snort another. Reality is a pier alongside which you bob in your skiff. Sometimes you can gauge the distance. Sometimes you miss the jump.” – Ryan Cusack

The Rules of Revelation is uncompromising in its description of people and place. Its rawness is tangible. Ryan’s hurt is unmistakable. Ryan’s truth is unflinching. It is what it is. With a mix of wonderfully flawed characters, The Rules of Revelation is another engrossing read from Lisa McInerney. There is an energy off these books that I just love. Am I biased? Unashamedly so. And just so you all know, us Corkonians are really very nice when you get to know us!

(c) Swirl and Thread

Order your copy online here.

  • The Dark Room by Sam Blake
  • allianceindependentauthors.org

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get all of the latest from writing.ie delivered directly to your inbox.

Featured books

  • The Needle and the Damage Done is the story of a boy from a small Irish village who became an adventurer, multi-award-winning do
  • Freewheeling to Love by Máire O' Leary. A contemporary romance set in Co. Kerry
  • More adventures in 'Billy's Search for the Unspell Spell' the sequel out now!
  • None Stood Taller by Peter Turnham