Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Review: King of Dublin by Lisa Henry and Heidi Belleau

Reviewed by Whuppsy
King of Dublin by Lisa Henry and Heidi Belleau
Riptide Publishing
Novel: 375pgs
5 Pants Off

Twenty years after a deadly pandemic ravaged the world, Darragh Fergus Anluan and the people of his village have carved out a hard but simple life in the Irish countryside. But with winter comes sickness, and Darragh must travel to Dublin in search of medicine. What he finds there is a ruined city ruled by a madman, where scavenging is punishable by death . . . or conscription.

Ciaran Daly came to Ireland with aid and optimism, but instead was enslaved by the so-called King of Dublin. After months of abuse from the king and his men, he has no reason to believe this newcomer will be any different. Except Ciaran finds himself increasingly drawn to Darragh, whose brutish looks mask how sweet and gentle he really is.

The tenderness Darragh feels for the king’s treasured pet is treason, but it’s hardly the only betrayal brewing in this rotten kingdom. Rebellions and rival gangs threaten the king’s power, but not nearly as much as Darragh and Ciaran—whose only hope for freedom is the fall of the king.

* This title contains the following sensitive themes: dubious consent, explicit violence and non-consent

Let me begin with saying that this book contains some very harsh things. Rape, non-consent, dubious consent, lots of violence and mental and physical torture. If you are sensitive to any of these things, this probably won’t be the book for you. That being said, this book was pretty damn good. It was such a good book of survival, hope and love. There was so much going on in this book that it hooked you from the very first page. I was!!

So you meet Darragh from the very first page. He’s this kind, sweet, na├»ve young man. He left his village in order to find medicine for his people. He comes to Dublin in to find some and gets caught by the King of Dublin’s men. He’s taken to the see the king and is told that in order to get the medicine that he needs, he has to serve the king. He agrees to this, anything to save his people. Then he sees Ciaran for the first time.

Darragh is the kind of guy that most people would hope to find in their lives, sweet, kind and so very innocent. Honest to a fault. He’s not had the experience of dealing with the lies and duplicity that he’s now involved in. He’s just trying to make it through to get the meds that his village so badly needs. He’s now caught up in this madman’s game. He’s now doing things that he never thought he’d do. Then to add more on his plate, he finds that he’s attracted to the king’s “Boy”. Darragh knew that he liked other guys, but being where he’s from he’s never had an opportunity to try anything. Now, he does and it’s more than he thought it’d be.

Ciaran is a young man whose life didn’t turn out the way the thought it would. He’s come from a very privileged background. Ciaran has such high ideals that he can help those that are suffering. He wanted to help his people and instead he got raped and has become the pet of the king. He has had to hide who he really is inside in order to survive. To lie and let himself be taken by people not of his choosing. To be tortured both emotionally and physically. He starts to believe of himself that he’s unclean. That he’s nothing more than a whore. That he’ll never really be free. He sees Darragh and his path is changed yet again.

This story drew me in from the very beginning. To see how these two young men are thrown into this harsh and ugly and very violent place and what they both do in order to find some bit of comfort and yes, hope as well. The fact that they find someone who asks for nothing more from the other to be themselves is amazing. They have their own issues that need to be dealt with, and yet they still find that strength to hold on and hope for something better.

The secondary characters were just what you’d expect them to be. They are hard and angry people. They have had to survive in a world gone mad. That they now have this batshit crazy man claiming to be their king, they do bad things horrible things in order to live another day. To survive this madman’s whim. Some that are there are just as evil as the king and others are just doing what they must to survive. Even doing things that they would likely not do before hand, just to survive and keep the people with them alive and together. The character that I enjoyed the most was Rabbit. He’s this sweet, kind young man who just wants to be loved and belong. Even during this harsh, horrible new world, he’s this kind young man who helps Darragh and Ciaran.

There were times in this story that I wanted to smack Ciaran. I get where he was coming from, but it was that rashness of youth and the belief that he knows best that keeps getting him in trouble. I will say that it was so nice to see someone as wonderful as Darragh take the time and has the patience to keep chipping away at Ciaran’s shell. He needed to see that there wasn’t all bad left in the world. That there were people out there who still were kind and giving that could love and be there for others. Nothing sinister in their words, actions or deeds. Darragh just wants to love him. He makes some mistakes, but the true intention behind everything he does, is for the love of Ciaran.

This book has lots of sexual content. Most of it was truly not good. It was so awful reading about what Ciaran had to do to survive. The humiliation and degradation that he felt was heart breaking. That he was forced to do this to allow these things to happen and to not be able to defend yourself against it. So very sad. It hurt to read and to feel Ciaran’s emotions, was just so damn hard.

Please read this book. It shows that no matter what happens in this life, that there are people out there that love and have hope. They have faith that being with the ones who you love and care for, being part of a community matters. It was a hard read. There were things happening in this story that hurt my heart, but I pushed through it. I wanted to see how it would end. I wanted to see how they came together and what they had to go through in order to be together. This story gave so much hope and love that I was still sad to see it end. But I was happy that it have the guys get where they were going and to make it back, not whole…but something else.

5 Pants Off

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