• Paperback: 300 pages
• Publisher: Ashland Creek Press (September 1, 2017)
Along the windswept coast of Ireland, a woman discovers the landscape of her own heart
When Annie Crowe travels from Seattle to a small Irish village to promote a new copper mine, her public relations career is hanging in the balance. Struggling to overcome her troubled past and a failing marriage, Annie is eager for a chance to rebuild her life.
Yet when she arrives on the remote Beara Peninsula, Annie learns that the mine would encroach on the nesting ground of an endangered bird, the Red-billed Chough, and many in the community are fiercely protective of this wild place. Among them is Daniel Savage, a local artist battling demons of his own, who has been recruited to help block the mine.
Despite their differences, Annie and Daniel find themselves drawn toward each other, and, inexplicably, they begin to hear the same voice–a strange, distant whisper of Gaelic, like sorrow blowing in the wind.
Guided by ancient mythology and challenged by modern problems, Annie must confront the half-truths she has been sent to spread and the lies she has been telling herself. Most of all, she must open her heart to the healing power of this rugged land and its people.
Beautifully crafted with environmental themes, a lyrical Irish setting, and a touch of magical realism, The Crows of Beara is a breathtaking novel of how the nature of place encompasses everything that we are.
“A captivating tale of our yearning to belong and the importance of following this ancient call.” —Kathryn Craft, award-winning author of The Far End of Happy and The Art of Falling
“Julie Christine Johnson swept me away from the first page…She is a lush writer who does not turn away from the heart.” —Julie Maloney, poet, author, director of Women Reading Aloud
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Annie Crowe is a recovering alcoholic and though it seems like her life should be coming together, it is falling apart at the seams. Annie's marriage has ended due to her actions while being an addict and now her prestigious job at a PR firm is at risk. In order to simultaneously escape her failed marriage and try to get her career on track, Annie takes a high-risk assignment in Ireland. On the shores of Ireland, in the remote Beara Peninsula, Annie is supposed to get the townspeople to agree that a copper mine in Ballycarog Cove would be the best choice for the economy and people there. However, once she arrives in Ireland and is given a tour by hiking guide Daniel Savage of the land that the mining would destroy and the bird that would be displaced, Annie seems starts to think that she might be on the wrong side. Daniel Savage is also haunted by his past mistakes and has closed himself off to getting close to anyone else, but when Annie Crowe arrives for his hiking tour, he feels a connection; and on the wind they both hear the disembodied call of Mise Éire calling them.
Before I was swept into Annie and Daniel's stories, I was entranced by the opening, the Hag of Beara in her glory, looking out over her beautiful land. I had to know more about this legend and how she would effect the story. Written in changing points of view between Annie and Daniel, I was thrown into their lives. Both characters are broken, recovering alcoholics. Annie wants to escape her past and start over. Daniel would rather wallow in his guilt, believing this is what he deserves. Through the writing and the voice on the wind, I was able to feel their immediate connection. The internal struggles in both Annie and Daniel were mirrored in the external struggles of the mining company and the environment. In addition to these strongly developed characters, I felt fully immersed in the beauty of Ireland and Ballycarog Cove. The red-billed chough also caught my attention, I too would surely be rooting to save the unique habitat of this special bird. The rise of fall of tension between Annie and Daniel kept me absorbed within the story and I almost forgot about the trouble of the mine and the birds. Overall, a charming story with a mix of redemption, love, folklore and environmental themes.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
Julie Christine Johnson’s short stories and essays have appeared in journals including Emerge Literary Journal; Mud Season Review; Cirque: A Literary Journal of the North Pacific Rim; Cobalt; and River Poets Journal. Her work has also appeared in the print anthologies Stories for Sendai; Up, Do: Flash Fiction by Women Writers; and Three Minus One: Stories of Love and Loss. She holds undergraduate degrees in French and psychology and a master’s in international affairs. Julie leads writing workshops and seminars and offers story/developmental editing and writer coaching services.
Named a “standout debut” by Library Journal, “very highly recommended” by Historical Novels Review, and “delicate and haunting, romantic and mystical” by bestselling author Greer Macallister, Julie’s debut novel In Another Life (Sourcebooks) went into a second printing three days after its February 2016 release. A hiker, yogi, and swimmer, Julie makes her home in northwest Washington state.
Find out more about Julie at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter. You can also follow her on Instagram and Pinterest.