The Storm Keeper’s Island
By Catherine Doyle
Published January 22, 2019 by Bloomsbury Children’s Books
One of my goals for 2019 is to read more middle grade, and The Storm Keeper’s Island sounded right up my alley: set on a small island off the coast of Ireland, with family secrets and magic.
Eleven-year-old Fionn Boyle and his older sister Tara are sent to the island of Arranmore to spend the summer with their grandfather, Malachy, while their mother is hospitalized for depression. Tara’s excited to return to the island where she has friends and a boyfriend, but this is Fionn’s first visit and he’s missing his mother and apprehensive about staying with a grandfather he’s never met.
Arranmore is a magical place, and Fionn can feel the magic almost as soon as he steps off the ferry. His grandfather is a bit odd and lives in a ramshackle cottage filled with candles he makes. Tara has no time for her younger brother and ditches him as soon as she can to hang out with her boyfriend, the truly awful Bartley Beasley (Fionn refers to him as a “follically gifted Voldemort.” He’s actually much more of a Draco Malfoy type.). Left to his own devices, Fionn begins to explore the island and its secrets.
Fionn learns that his grandfather is the island’s Storm Keeper, the person who wields the island’s magic and keep it safe. Malachy’s mind is beginning to fail, and it’s time for the island to choose a new Keeper. An ancient evil may be waking up, and the Storm Keeper’s job of keeping the island safe is going to be a difficult one.
Fionn is a great character. He’s a little lost, he misses his life in Dublin, and he worries that he’s not as brave as his dead father (who died before he was born during an island rescue) and Malachy. His growing bond with his grandfather is lovely and we see him begin to find himself. The connection between Fionn and Malachy was the best part of the book for me.
I found the book’s villains a bit weak. They’re revealed to be bad the first time you meet them, so there’s not much suspense. One of them even has a resplendent mustache, which is a bit too on the nose for me. But the villains aren’t really that important to the story. It’s much more about Fionn and his family and the ways they’re trapped in the past and bound to the island.
This is a lovely book, and I think kids will really enjoy reading about Fionn. There’s going to be a sequel, and the next stage of Fionn’s tale should be very interesting.
I received an ARC from Amazon Vine.