Wild Houses by Colin Barrett – Book Review

Wild Houses by Colin Barrett – Book Review

Wild Houses by Colin Barrett

Wild Houses

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As Ballina prepares for its biggest weekend of the year, the simmering feud between small-time drug-dealer, Cillian English, and County Mayo’s enforcers, Gabe and Sketch Ferdia, spills over into violence and an ugly ultimatum.

When the reclusive Dev answers his door on Friday night he finds Doll – Cillian’s teenage brother – in the clutches of Gabe and Sketch. Jostled by his nefarious cousins and goaded by his dead mother’s dog, Dev is drawn headlong into the Ferdias’ revenge fantasy.

Meanwhile, seventeen-year-old Nicky can’t shake the feeling something bad has happened to her boyfriend Doll. Hungover, reeling from a fractious Friday night and plagued by ghosts of her own, Nicky sets out on a feverish mission to save Doll, even as she questions her future in Ballina.

Review by Stacey

Wild Houses is set over just a few days and revolves around three complex characters, Dev, Doll, and Nicky (Doll’s girlfriend) amongst a host of secondary characters. The book is set in a small, rural town in West Ireland, Ballina, County Mayo where Doll has been kidnapped and taken to Dev’s isolated cottage to be held for ransom by Dev’s cousins.

Doll’s brother is a local drug dealer Cillian who owes a lot of money to Dev’s cousins and they have given him a few days to pay up, or else. Nicky is wondering what happened to Doll and has taken it upon herself to go in search of her boyfriend.

The book skilfully weaves between past and present, painting a vivid picture of life in this small town, rife with drugs, violence, poverty, and fractured families.

Wild Houses is edgy, dark, and yet quite humorous in places. The story flows well as it moves back and forth in time and the pages seemed to fly by as I was immersed into this devastating tale.

However, it is a strange read as nothing of significance seems to really happen. Lots of talking and showing but actions are few and far between. Overall, it was still a decent read, though and one that will hold you to the pages, captivated by the goings on in this small town.

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Colin Barrett

Colin Barrett

Colin Barrett grew up in County Mayo, Ireland. His stories have been published in the Stinging Fly, Granta, Harper’s and the New Yorker. His first book, the short story collection Young Skins, won the Guardian First Book Award, the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature.

His second collection, Homesickness, made the New York Times 100 Notable Books of the Year and was a Book of the Year in Oprah Daily and the Irish Times.

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