The Good People, by Hannah Kent
Although she was born and lives in Australia, Hannah Kent deserves at least an honorary place in the pantheon of great Irish novelists.
She brings all five sense to to her writing.
She uses her eyes for the intricacies of the Irish language, her ear for the turn of a phrase, her smell for the land, the animals, and the bog, her taste for the medicinal herbs, and her touch with a sensitivity for the rural Irish culture.
Irish fairy lore was (and remains) a deeply complex, ambiguous system of folk belief -- there is little that is twee or childish about it. ... In writing this work of fiction, I have tried to portray fairy and folk belief as part of the fabric of everyday rural nineteenth-century life, rather than as anomalous.In her novel, Kent addresses issues of poverty, rural life, gossip, religious power and hypocrisy, and female empowerment. Her characters include a teenage girl brought into a strange situation in a new community that involves an old woman wildly considered to be a witch, a widowed woman grieving over the death of her husband, her daughter, and the loss of her grandson to illness, and that boy, who may be a changling.
Having a changling -- someone stolen and replaced by the fairies -- brings in additional issues of belief, magic, and supersition.
Resolving them involves some truth -- the novel is based on a real-life incident that occurred in 1826 in County Kerry, Ireland. But of course, it includes literary license, all written in a fine style that causes one to stop to appreciate the writer's grace and talent.