In the Forest
In the Forest
By Edna O'Brien
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780618197309, 272pp.
Publication Date: March 1, 2002
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.
" Short, stark and eloquent. . .[Her] sentient, sonorous prose makes both O'Kane's inner world and his environment nearly palpable." Publishers Weekly
"A brilliant illumination of human nature." --Brad Hooper Booklist, ALA, Starred Review
"IN THE FOREST is a rather extraordinary transformation of cold fact into lyric fiction." --Melanie Rehak Vogue
"O'Brien is a Romantic, intuitive and poetic, who seldom stoops to prosaic questions. . .IN THE FOREST succeeds remarkably." --Brooke Allen Atlantic Monthly
"At once rich and chilling: one of O'Brien's darkest, most accomplished works in years." Kirkus Reviews
"IN THE FOREST is a portrait of desolation and rage, brilliantly told, truly shocking." --Harold Pinter
"With masterstrokes of psychological insight and narrative bravado, O'Brien has created monstrous character. . ." --Lisa Shea Elle
"Edna O'Brien is an absolutely gorgeous writer. . ." --Carolyn See The Washington Post
"A bleak, despairing, almost unbearably powerful book. . ." --Margaria Fichtner The Miami Herald
"It's pure Edna O'Brien, who can take the verdant promises of the West of Ireland and render them sensual, paralyzing, and dangerous, sometimes all at once." --Gail Caldwell Boston Globe
". . .[B]reathtakingly told in O'Brien's typically graceful, emotionally gripping style." --Charlotte Innes The Los Angeles Times
"Her best book, and a modern masterpiece. . ." --Eoghan Harris, The Independent (Dublin)