Synopses & Reviews
In the Forest
returns to the countryside of western Ireland, the vivid backdrop of Edna O'Brien's previous novel, Wild Decembers
. Murder is again the story's climax, but the killer's motives are deeply buried in his psychoses rather than triggered by exterior conflict. Michen O'Kane loses his mother as a boy and by the age of ten is incarcerated for petty crimes in juvenile detention centers, "the places named after the saints." But his problems go beyond early loss and abuse the killing instinct is already kindled in him. He is christened by fearful neighbors "the Kinderschreck," meaning someone of whom small children are afraid. As in Greek tragedy, there are unwitting victims for sacrifice in the Kinderschreck's world a radiant young woman, her little son, and a devout and trusting priest, all dispatched to the forest of O'Kane's unbridled, deranged fantasies.
Taken from a true story, Edna O'Brien's riveting, frightening, and brilliantly told new novel reminds us that anything can happen "outside the boundary of mother and child," where protection isn't afforded. The villagers of In the Forest see "one of their own sons, come out of their own soil, their own flesh and blood, gone amok." It is an intimate portrayal of both perpetrator and victims a story that is old, and current, and everywhere.
"As always, she writes like
a dream. Generations from now, when we will want to understand the
Ireland past, we'll return to Edna O'Brien to understand." Colum McCann, author of Dancer
"Edna O'Brien draws us into a deep, dark place in her new novel....We know from the outset that Michen O'Kane...will commit murder....It's the why and the how that we're not sure about, and that O'Brien so compellingly reveals....What is surprising, and pleasantly so, is the emotional urgency that propels O'Brien's narrative, the intense richness of her prose, the primal truths about human nature she reveals as she plumbs the lives of these tragic figures. Immersing herself in the thicket of a true crime (the story is based on a real-life 1966 murder spree), O'Brien has patiently peeled back the underbrush and laid bare the forest within." Amy Reiter, Salon.com
Michael O'Kane's problems go beyond early loss and abuse--the killing instinct is already kindled in him as he earns the title of Kinderschreck: someone of whom children are afraid.
In the Forest returns to the countryside of western Ireland, the vivid backdrop of Edna O'Brien's best-selling Wild Decembers. Here O'Brien unravels a classic confrontation of evil and innocence centering on the young, troubled Michael O'Kane, christened by his neighbors "the Kindershrek," someone of whom small children are afraid. O'Kane loses his mother as a boy and by age ten is incarcerated in a juvenile detention center, an experience that leaves him scarred from abuse and worse, with the killing instinct buried within. A story based on actual events, In the Forest proceeds in a rush of hair-raising episodes and asks what will become of O'Kane's unwitting victims -- a radiant young woman, her little son, and a devout and trusting priest.
Riveting, frightening, and brilliantly told, this intimate portrayal of both perpetrator and victims reminds us that anything can happen "outside the boundary of mother and child."
About the Author
Edna O'Brien's previous works of fiction include Wild Decembers, Down by the River, House of Splendid Isolation, Time and Tide, and Lantern Slides, which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. O'Brien has also written a book about James Joyce, and she received the 2002 Medal of Honor for literature from the National Arts Club. An honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, she grew up in Ireland and now lives in London.