REVIEW: Alan Corbett's Ghost of Shandon


REVIEW: Alan Corbett’s the Ghost of Shandon has finally hit after what has seemed like an age of build up. The long-awaited story taking place in County Cork has had a fair bit of buzz surrounding it following numerous write ups in the printed press and more and also an art exhibition featuring art from the book going on public display in Cork.
With little doubt that the book is a visual feast, I wondered how the story would hold up. I found it a real surprise to see that the story was just as strong. I love time travel stories and to find one with uniqueness such as this one was a treat. The story follows a kid called Ronan who finds himself a bit of a social outcast. While sitting in St. Peter’s Park in Cork City reading his favourite book, The Three Musketeers, he makes the acquaintance of a girl called Aisling who to Ronan seems a bit ‘ghostly’. What follows is a fantastical tale that throws the reader right back into the 18thCenturyCorkCity along with Ronan. Corbett lays out a detailed story that hits all its beats with ease and moves along seamlessly. The cast of characters are put together quite smartly in that they show the social ladder and injustices that existed at the time and they are woven into the fabric of the story and play an integral part.
There is actual heart to the book even from the very beginning. I’m sure that there are many young folk who could identify with the character of Ronan, a kid that feels lost even in the bustling of a large urban centre like a city. In that, you have a lead character who is easily relatable and that makes for an even more smooth amiability to the story.
We knew from teaser images and cover art doing the rounds lately that the book was going to be beautiful to look at and it is only when you delve into the book that you realise what a tour de force it actually is. It is hard to describe the style of art in the book as there is honestly nothing to compare it to easily. Corbett has carved out a definitive style for himself and it is wonderful. It’s actually easy to see where the offer of an art exhibition came from when you see what is on offer. Numerous full page images that are extremely detailed and I know enough about Irish history to realise that a large level of research went into what the city would have looked like in the period to appreciate the books look.
I was delighted and surprised to see that the book ended with a ‘to be continued’ and not a ‘the end’ caption. The story was a joy to behold and visually stunning. The follow-up is eagerly anticipated and the first offering is hugely recommended.