Review: The Silver Road by Sinéad O’Hart

Written by Sinéad O’Hart
Cover illustration by Manuel Šumberac
Published by Piccadilly Press

The Silver Road is a stunning fantasy adventure that swept me into a world of magic and myth, of danger and hope, of family and friendship that completely entranced me.  This is a book I really cannot recommend highly enough – outstanding storytelling from a master storyteller who weaves magic into words.

After another difficult day in her new school, Rose Darke is unable to sleep, so she gets up to read her library book.  She is disturbed by a sound on the skylight and, when she goes outside to investigate, she discovers that it is hailing – in April!  Imagine her shock when the hail forms itself into an ice giant who opens his hand to reveal a reddish stone which he gives to her before flying away. 

On her way to school the following morning, she visits two elderly shopkeepers who she has befriended, who are not at all who they seem.  After the stone falls out of her pocket, they tell her that it is a weapon that can be used for either good or evil – and she has been chosen as its Guardian …

And so begins a truly breath-taking, magical adventure as Rose discovers that the magic of the Silver Road, that has cast a protective net over Ireland, is in danger of disappearing.  As the old magic weakens, an ancient evil is awakening.  Can Rose protect the magic of the Silver Road and ensure its regeneration? Can she prevent the return of one who will bring terrible destruction?

Oh my goodness!  This is the MOST incredible, action-packed quest adventure, brimming with magic, with danger, with discoveries … I was swept into a modern world interwoven with the old magic and mythology of Ireland and was completely and utterly spellbound.  I don’t want to say too much for fear of spoilers, but be prepared to meet witches, giants, wolves, ancient gods and warriors in a gripping adventure that is guaranteed to have you on the edge of your seat as the peril reaches a fierce crescendo.  Epically brilliant!

I grew up enjoying tales of Celtic myths and legends, so this is a story that took me back to those tales of my childhood, but with a fresh and modern twist that I loved.  I really enjoyed:  the blending of myth with environmental issues linked to climate change and land development; the power of stories to invoke memories, bring hope and give comfort; and, I must admit, I adored that this was set in modern Ireland, paying homage to its rich folklore heritage, and taking me on a journey to both familiar and unfamiliar places through vivid, lyrical and impressive world-building. 

Rose is an incredibly likeable young girl who has a loving, hard-working family who live on a Council Estate.  She has gained a scholarship to her local Grammar School, but is being bullied and tormented by another girl and her gang who makes it clear that she doesn’t belong there.  Rose feels unable to talk to her teachers or parents and instead escapes into books, and her friendship with two incredible, magical people – Nellie and Gracie – and the wonderful not-cat, Catshee who I adored.  Rose is also grieving the recent loss of her beloved Mamó, who has shared with her the stories that are now coming alive, when she finds herself thrown into an adventure she didn’t ask for.  Rose shows great strength, determination and courage in facing frightening foes, in learning to stand up for herself, and in seeking help when it is desperately needed.

The Silver Road is a mesmerising, unforgettable adventure:  a story of courage and hope, of trusting in old magic and new friendship, in the face of darkness and danger …  an absolute must-read and definitely one of my Books of the Year! 

Thank you to the Publisher and NetGalley for an e-ARC in exchange for my honest opinion. I will definitely be getting a copy to share with my class when it is published on 28th September.

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