Paul Lynch takes the pastoral novel and - with the calmest of hands - tears it apart.
In the spring of 1945, farm-worker Matthew Peoples runs into a burning byre and does not come out alive. The farm's owner, Barnabas Kane, can only look on as his friend dies and all 43 of his cattle are destroyed in the blaze.
Following the disaster, the bull-headed and proudly self-sufficient Barnabas is forced to reach out to the farming community for assistance. But resentment simmers over Matthew Peoples' death, and Barnabas and his family begin to believe their efforts at recovery are being sabotaged.
Barnabas is determined to hold firm. Yet his son Billy struggles under the weight of a terrible secret, and his wife Eskra is suffocated by the uncertainty surrounding their future. And as Barnabas fights ever harder for what is rightfully his, his loved ones are drawn ever closer to a fate that should never have been theirs.
With beautiful, haunting prose, Lynch illuminates what it means to be alive during crisis, and puts to the test our deepest certainties about humankind.
Raw, savage, tender ... Lynch has an impressive gift for storytelling - Guardian
A classic tragic hero ... The striking talent of its author is his brilliant ability to reinvent the English language ... There is a magic to this kind of writing - Irish Times