Monday, 3 March 2014

King of Dublin by Heidi Belleau and Lisa Henry

From the blurb:

Twenty years after a deadly pandemic ravaged the world, Darragh Fearghal Anluan and the people of his village have carved out a hard but simple life in the Irish countryside. But with winter comes sickness, and Darragh must travel to Dublin in search of medicine. What he finds there is a ruined city ruled by a madman, where scavenging is punishable by death . . . or conscription.

Ciaran Daly came to Ireland with aid and optimism, but instead was enslaved by the so-called King of Dublin. After months of abuse from the king and his men, he has no reason to believe this newcomer will be any different. Except Ciaran finds himself increasingly drawn to Darragh, whose brutish looks mask how sweet and gentle he really is.

The tenderness Darragh feels for the king’s treasured pet is treason, but it’s hardly the only betrayal brewing in this rotten kingdom. Rebellions and rival gangs threaten the king’s power, but not nearly as much as Darragh and Ciaran—whose only hope for freedom is the fall of the king.


It's been a long time since a novel emotionally gutted me like King of Dublin.  It's dark, it's bleak, and you are definitely advised to read the associated warnings on the publisher's site.

The novel opens with survivor of the pandemic, Darragh, who has until this point struggled to carve out existence in his small home village with a few other survivors somewhere in the south of Ireland near Cork.  But he's left his village on a mission to Dublin.  The villagers need medicine to prevent a deadly illness which kills some of them each winter.  However, upon entering Dublin, he falls into a hell from which he may never return.

The other hero of this novel is Ciaran Daly.  He's been trapped inside the hell that is Dublin for about a year before Darragh arrives.  He is also living his own personal hell being abused by the king and his men.  Ciaran's situation, his previous optimism, and his down right stubbornness to survive are all painfully drawn and gut wrenching.

The setting is superb and it feels so real.

King of Dublin moved me intensely.  Heidi Belleau and Lisa Henry do such an amazing job of painting Darragh and Ciaran as complex people, who are fundamentally trying to survive and trying to be good - two things which often come into conflict.  It was emotionally intense to watch these two souls navigate such a dreadful situation.

The finale, however, was worth it.  All of Darragh and Ciaran's mistakes, all the ways in which they've hurt and loved each other.  Without giving it away, you simply must read it.

This has easily been one of the stand out new releases of this year, for me.  King of Dublin is stunning and haunting.

Please do read the trigger warnings on the website before plunging in.

More Information:

Title: King of Dublin
Author: Heidi Belleau and Lisa Henry
Genre: Post-apocalyptic/Romance
Length: Novel
Publishing Date:  24 Feb. 2014
Type: m/m

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