Boy meets witch: a no love lost story, by Leilanie Stewart

Another fine production from Leilanie Stewart. I’ve reviewed Buddha’s Bones, The Blue Man, and The Fairy Lights previously. Still waiting on that endorsement cheque… kidding!

Stewart’s Matthew’s Twin: The Spirit of Medieval Vengeance Made Flesh (Belfast Ghosts), (hereafter, Twin, for obvious reasons), differs from the rest of her books I’ve read, where the supernatural elements are left to the reader’s discretion; instead, in Twin, Stewart goes all-in on the supernatural, leaving no question about the supernatural nature of the events of the story. The reader is up to their eyeballs in a hard-core fantasy revenge story that sweeps across the centuries like a blood feud.

The plot is too busy for a simple outline, but I can say the narrative bounces back and forth from 2023 to the early 14th century. The action takes place in Ireland, a Steward staple, and involves Scottish invaders, lead by Edward Bruce, invading and besieging Carraig Fhearghais Castle, as well as laying waste to the surrounding countryside. It also involves a rather creepy twin, but no spoilers.

You’ll be on Matthew’s side pretty much the entire book, as the protagonist tries to first understand, and then deal with, a curse whose time as come, and of which he is the target. Things go from bad to worse, then miserable, and then an unexpected twist knocks your feet out from under you. Perhaps you will anticipate it. In fact, now you’re reading this, you’ll suspect something.

But I wonder if you’ll get it right…

A story of desperation, overreaction, horror, and revenge, taking place, at least in part, in a modern contemporary Irish city. Giving the characters Irish accents in your head is great fun. You even get to do some Scottish voices as well.

The characters are not so likeable, but then, that’s kind of the point. Something has carried over from the past, a kind of echo of their inhumanity towards each other, leaving the reader feeling a bit ambiguous about cheering for any of them. Until the end, at least, when things go off the rails and our sympathy bone gets tweaked.

Stewart’s writing style I have discussed before, so I’ll just repeat myself here (from my review of The Fairy Lights):

I have become something of a Stewart aficionado, so I feel safe to say her writing is clear and comfortable: not too lean and not too flamboyant. The story here is what is important, not the sentence structure. And while I do enjoy really well-written sentence roller-coasters, I’ve come to prefer books dealing with fantasy take a more measured approach to language. Aping Middle English tends to come off as pretentious and distracting. So kudos for Stewart for keeping an even keel over fantastical waters.

If you like a good Irish tale of mythology and supernatural revenge, you’ll like this book. And even if you don’t, you like this one anyway. It’s a fun read, with lots of twists and turns to keep you on your mental toes.

Get it before the witch gets you.

You can visit Leilanie Stewart’s Amazon page to see the other books she’s written.

Read my other Stewart reviews:

The Blue Man❯

The Fairy Lights ❯

The Buddha’s Bone ❯