The Butchers' Blessing - book cover
  • Publisher : Tin House Books
  • Published : 16 Nov 2021
  • Pages : 305
  • ISBN-10 : 1951142748
  • ISBN-13 : 9781951142742
  • Language : English

The Butchers' Blessing

Winner of the 2021 RSL Ondaatje Prize

Set in the gothic wilds of Ireland, The Butchers' Blessing is a haunting and unforgettable thriller brimming with secrecy, tradition, and superstition.

Every year, Úna prepares for her father to leave her. He will wave goodbye early one morning, then disappear with seven other men to traverse the Irish countryside. Together, these men form the Butchers, a group that roams from farm to farm, enacting ancient methods of cattle slaughter. 

The Butchers' Blessing moves between the events of 1996 and the present, offering a simmering glimpse into the modern tensions that surround these eight fabled men. For Úna, being a Butcher's daughter means a life of tangled ambition and incredible loneliness. For her mother, Grá, it's a life of faith and longing, of performing a promise that she may or may not be able to keep. For nonbeliever Fionn, the Butchers represent a dated and complicated reality, though for his son, Davey, they represent an entirely new world?and potentially new love. For photographer Ronan, the Butchers are ideal subjects: representatives of an older, more folkloric Ireland whose survival is now being tested. As he moves through the countryside, Ronan captures this world image by image?a lake, a cottage, and his most striking photo: a man, hung upside down in a pose of unspeakable violence.

Thrilling, dark, and richly atmospheric, The Butchers' Blessing is an engrossing incantation?mesmerizing in both language and story?conjuring a family and a country on the edge of irrevocable change.

Readers Top Reviews

Tom McGee
This book receives high praise and I was really looking forward to reading it, but the font on the advance reader's copy is so tiny that I cannot read it without a magnifying glass and it prevents me from enjoying this tale. I tried to order the Kindle version so that I can make the print larger; however, it is not available until November 10, 2020. Perhaps I will order the Kindle version when it becomes available and adjust my review when I am able to read it, but for now, I can only give it a one-star review because I cannot read it. Sorry.
The Butcher's Blessing is a very well written thriller that transports the reader straight to Ireland through the author's wonderful use of language. Make no mistake, this is not for the faint hearted. The author draws the reader in with a masterfully presented scene of brutality and then takes the reader back in time, letting us wind our way back through a story filled with Irish folklore, memorable characters, and lush scenery that ultimately comes full circle, delivering a few well timed surprises along the way. This was a fantastic read that often defies description. A must read for any fan of Irish fiction willing to take a stroll on the darker side.
We've all read a lot of bad books. Sometimes you make it through the whole thing. Sometimes you abort after 50 or 100 pages. I wasn't tempted to abort this book. I really like the author's voice and I cared about the characters. I wanted to see how things turned out. The problem is that much (not all) of this book is based on one particular thing that happens. It is a fairly shocking event that the reader waits for illumination on. But we never really get it. At least I didn't get it. Also there is another event that ends the book that has the exact same problem. What just happened there?? I read the last couple pages 3 times and I still don't understand. This isn't exactly a blockbuster bestseller so I doubt that the answers would be available online. And even if they are is that how you want to understand a book - by doing research? I like to think that I am at least of average intelligence. So I'm guessing that there will be many readers who feel the same lack of understanding. The frustrating thing is that a good editor could easily have pointed out that this is a major flaw in the book and sent it back for revision. The talent is there and it is just a waste. I would be fine trying another book by Gilligan and hope that this is an isolated misstep.
Sandra Johnson-harri
This book qas rather disappointing. I spent my time reading it wondering where the plot was. The characters were shallow, it moved slowly?, and the ending was a lry down.

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