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Haven

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In seventh-century Ireland, a scholar and priest called Artt has a dream telling him to leave the sinful world behind. Taking two monks—young Trian and old Cormac—he rows down the river Shannon in search of an isolated spot on which to found a monastery. Drifting out into the Atlantic, the three men find an impossibly steep, bare island inhabited by tens of thousands of bi In seventh-century Ireland, a scholar and priest called Artt has a dream telling him to leave the sinful world behind. Taking two monks—young Trian and old Cormac—he rows down the river Shannon in search of an isolated spot on which to found a monastery. Drifting out into the Atlantic, the three men find an impossibly steep, bare island inhabited by tens of thousands of birds, and claim it for God. In such a place, what will survival mean? Three men vow to leave the world behind them. They set out in a small boat for an island their leader has seen in a dream, with only faith to guide them. What they find is the extraordinary island now known as Skellig Michael. Haven has Emma Donoghue’s trademark world-building and psychological intensity—but this story is like nothing she has ever written before.


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In seventh-century Ireland, a scholar and priest called Artt has a dream telling him to leave the sinful world behind. Taking two monks—young Trian and old Cormac—he rows down the river Shannon in search of an isolated spot on which to found a monastery. Drifting out into the Atlantic, the three men find an impossibly steep, bare island inhabited by tens of thousands of bi In seventh-century Ireland, a scholar and priest called Artt has a dream telling him to leave the sinful world behind. Taking two monks—young Trian and old Cormac—he rows down the river Shannon in search of an isolated spot on which to found a monastery. Drifting out into the Atlantic, the three men find an impossibly steep, bare island inhabited by tens of thousands of birds, and claim it for God. In such a place, what will survival mean? Three men vow to leave the world behind them. They set out in a small boat for an island their leader has seen in a dream, with only faith to guide them. What they find is the extraordinary island now known as Skellig Michael. Haven has Emma Donoghue’s trademark world-building and psychological intensity—but this story is like nothing she has ever written before.

30 review for Haven

  1. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    We keep seeking perfection because it never was the intent for it to dwell within ourselves. Emma Donoghue presents a complex, detailed, mind knotting experience in Haven. She reaches back in time to the 7th century down the Shannon River, off the jagged coast of Ireland, and into the far-flung positions of The Great Skellig. Here we experience its spikes of rock amid the crashing waves of the turbulent sea. And nestled in the countryside is a monastery filled with the young and old who have dedic We keep seeking perfection because it never was the intent for it to dwell within ourselves. Emma Donoghue presents a complex, detailed, mind knotting experience in Haven. She reaches back in time to the 7th century down the Shannon River, off the jagged coast of Ireland, and into the far-flung positions of The Great Skellig. Here we experience its spikes of rock amid the crashing waves of the turbulent sea. And nestled in the countryside is a monastery filled with the young and old who have dedicated their lives to God and the salvation of the souls of others. The abbot will grant permission for three of these monks to travel to the unknown seeking a place of solace and of a restorative nature. Trian is the youngest and has been at the monastery since he was thirteen. Always hungry and always clumsy, Trian is the first to volunteer. Cormac has been a convert for fifteen years since the death of his wife and children from the plague. He suffered with the illness but was spared. And Artt is the elusive stranger, scholar, priest who will become their Prior. Donoghue has designed her novel to be one of human observation. In the preparation itself, we notice how each monk insists on taking the bare minimum aboard the small boat. Vital items are cast aside as extravagance. And such sacrifice will jeopardize the advancement of this undertaking. Prior Artt has had a dream of an island in the southwest. He knows only that. And the vow of blind obedience will be at the core of it all. The gifts of fortitude and knowledge will suffer under the extremes of obedience. And the deemed weakest of the links may be the strongest. Without question, Emma Donoghue has a profound gift when transferring idea to page. Her novels are among my favorites for her ability to describe and portray the human spirit so superbly. Haven is not an easy read. It simmers in its telling and weighs heavily in its descriptors. It will definitely not be for everyone. But if you have a deep inquisitive mind, you'll want to see this to the end. The journey of these three will stay with you long after. I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to Little, Brown and Company and to the talented Emma Donoghue for the opportunity.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    As a devoted fan of author, I truly loved the idea of three religious men’s journey to discover an island to build their sacred place! But honestly I have second thoughts about the entire execution which was flat, extra slow, a little boring. And big revelation about one of the character’s biggest secret didn’t properly fit in story progression. It was short, quick read for me! I wish it could be great answer for my expectations to read another masterpiece created by the author. I keep my hopes As a devoted fan of author, I truly loved the idea of three religious men’s journey to discover an island to build their sacred place! But honestly I have second thoughts about the entire execution which was flat, extra slow, a little boring. And big revelation about one of the character’s biggest secret didn’t properly fit in story progression. It was short, quick read for me! I wish it could be great answer for my expectations to read another masterpiece created by the author. I keep my hopes up for the next work of hers! Special thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions.

  3. 4 out of 5

    jessica

    ‘this is the place. the higher up, the closer to heaven. on this islands peaks, our prayers will be halfway to gods ears already.’ skellig michael is an imposing island. with harsh, jutting summits and steep, narrow paths, its an island that screams unforgiveness. and i just found this particular story to be a little too humble, a little too one-note to do the islands history and atmosphere justice. i do think the story itself is very interesting. i love a good survival plot, so i was looking ‘this is the place. the higher up, the closer to heaven. on this islands peaks, our prayers will be halfway to gods ears already.’ skellig michael is an imposing island. with harsh, jutting summits and steep, narrow paths, its an island that screams unforgiveness. and i just found this particular story to be a little too humble, a little too one-note to do the islands history and atmosphere justice. i do think the story itself is very interesting. i love a good survival plot, so i was looking forward to reading about three monks settling an inhabitable island in the name of god. i just wish there had been a greater sense adventure when it came to their actual island experience. and with the writing being as nice as it is and the characters so quiet, again, i just think the narrative is a little too meek for heart of the story. if i wasnt so interested in the particular history of the island, i probably would have been bored by it all. so a good book to pick up for readers who have a particular interest in the topic, but i dont think this will appeal to the mass majority. thank you so much, little brown and company, for the ARC! ↠ 3.5 stars

  4. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    I am a huge fan of Emma Donoghue. And while this is beautifully written, it lacks oomph. It drags and it was hard to get an emotional connection with any of the three main characters. Artt arrives at an Irish monastery in the 7th century. He has a vision of starting a new monastery, far away from civilization. He takes off with two other monks and they set up on an island miles off the coast of Ireland. Slowly, their supplies run out but Artt refuses to allow them to return back to civilization I am a huge fan of Emma Donoghue. And while this is beautifully written, it lacks oomph. It drags and it was hard to get an emotional connection with any of the three main characters. Artt arrives at an Irish monastery in the 7th century. He has a vision of starting a new monastery, far away from civilization. He takes off with two other monks and they set up on an island miles off the coast of Ireland. Slowly, their supplies run out but Artt refuses to allow them to return back to civilization to replenish their supplies. He even initially refuses to allow them time to build shelter for themselves, deeming the work of the Lord (copying the Psaltery) more important. The book focuses on fanaticism,obedience and faith. What makes someone truly a saint? Artt believes God will provide. As someone who believes God expects us to use the brains he gave us, I struggled with this blind faith. I also couldn’t help but wonder where Artt’s pride and belief in himself fit into this hardheadedness. The ending was predictable, despite one minor twist I didn’t see coming. My thanks to Netgalley and Little, Brown and Company for an advance copy of this book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kerrin

    Haven by Emma Donoghue is a historical fiction novel about the dangerous effects of blind faith and obedience. Artt, a scholar, priest, and hermit has a dream while visiting Cluain Mhic Nois monastery in Ireland sometime in the seventh century. He believes God has told him to take two monks and head to an unknown island. He chooses the young Trian and the older Cormac as his companions. He requires them to take a vow of obedience to him, even though he acknowledges that such a vow tends to make Haven by Emma Donoghue is a historical fiction novel about the dangerous effects of blind faith and obedience. Artt, a scholar, priest, and hermit has a dream while visiting Cluain Mhic Nois monastery in Ireland sometime in the seventh century. He believes God has told him to take two monks and head to an unknown island. He chooses the young Trian and the older Cormac as his companions. He requires them to take a vow of obedience to him, even though he acknowledges that such a vow tends to make sheep of men. The group of three becomes the first landing party on Skellig Michael off the coast of Southwest Ireland. Artt is much more concerned with setting up a chapel and copying scripture than he is with taking care of basic necessities, such as food, shelter, and fuel. He foolishly believes that God will provide everything. He also believes that future generations will forever bless the name of the mission's founder, holy Artt. Artt treats Trian and Cormac as his inferiors in all matters and punishes them if they question his authority. The two take their vow of obedience seriously, even when their survival is at risk. While the subject matter is fascinating, I found myself bored at times with the slowness of this character-focused story. Also, I was not too fond of the flowery language that was often used. For example: “The sea is quite glassy as if God’s poured oil on it. As the red berry of the sun floats up into the sky, Trian can see everything: the silken fabric of the ocean, stretched out smooth with barely a ripple; flocks of voracious cormorants and moaning puffins working the water.” 3-stars. This novel will be published on August 23, 2022. Thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for my advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Beata

    Masterfully presented dynamics between three Irish monks who in the 7th century undertake a task to settle down on an island. Incredible power play between fanaticism, life experience and innocence. Loved it!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Cheri

    Set largely on Skellig Michael, one of the Skellig islands off the southwestern coast of Ireland, this begins on the first fast-day following Easter in Cluain Mhic Nóis, a monastery in County Offaly on the River Shannon. A place where strangers visit to study with one of the teachers, or to take a step away from the demands of life, to restore their soul, if you will. ’Chatter, argument, laughter; the hubbub of Gaelic rises and fills the hall like smoke.’ Six years Trian has been there, living a Set largely on Skellig Michael, one of the Skellig islands off the southwestern coast of Ireland, this begins on the first fast-day following Easter in Cluain Mhic Nóis, a monastery in County Offaly on the River Shannon. A place where strangers visit to study with one of the teachers, or to take a step away from the demands of life, to restore their soul, if you will. ’Chatter, argument, laughter; the hubbub of Gaelic rises and fills the hall like smoke.’ Six years Trian has been there, living among the monks when he is called upon to ferry this man, Artt, he’d only met the day before. Artt with the ’bearing of a warrior king’ who carries himself as though he is in a constant state of pious appeal. A man who, as a child, sought out a life of divinity at the tender age of seven, and continued to reach for higher understanding until he had outgrown each of the holy men who had shared their wisdom, and traveled throughout Ireland sharing the Gospel on this ’pagan-gripped continent’converting several tribes along the way. When Artt has a dream, a dream he is sure is a gift from above, a dream so real he can feel it and see it in his mind, he knows he has been chosen for a mission. This mission is so real to him, he requests a blessing of forming a sanctuary. ’Father, I have had a dream’ He shares his dream, his vision of the three of them, himself, a young monk and an old one. Artt, Trian and Cormac. A trinity, if you will, of chosen men. Men chosen, not by him, but by God. ’A vision…An island in the sea. I saw myself there. As if I were a bird or an angel, looking down on the three of us.’ ‘I was with an old monk, and a young one….an instruction to withdraw from the world…with two companions, find this island, and found a monastic retreat.’ I loved this variation on an immram, an Old Irish tale with a sea journey to the Otherworld, and a hero. A blend of Christianity with Irish mythology. A story of a man looked upon as a holy leader, a man who believes in his vision and insists on others following his way despite the destruction it will bring. A man who seeks to convince others that his is the true and only way, despite the peril to all involved. A parable that explores themes that seem all the more relevant to our times. Published: 23 Aug 2022 Many thanks for the ARC provided by Little, Brown and Company

  8. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    7th century Ireland. The novel starts when Artt, a most respected man of the church, arrives at the monastery. He is dismayed by all he sees, and soon states that the monastery and blasts the place for its laziness, spite and lust. He says he has been sent a vision by our lord to build Ina place not inhabitated by man where they can live purely and work to give glory to our maker. He takes two men of the monastery with him, an older man Cormac, who lost his family from the black death and Triann 7th century Ireland. The novel starts when Artt, a most respected man of the church, arrives at the monastery. He is dismayed by all he sees, and soon states that the monastery and blasts the place for its laziness, spite and lust. He says he has been sent a vision by our lord to build Ina place not inhabitated by man where they can live purely and work to give glory to our maker. He takes two men of the monastery with him, an older man Cormac, who lost his family from the black death and Triann, a younger man given to the church by his family. When they arrive, after several days, on an Skellig Michael, deserted except for birds, they find a barren, rock laden place to build their new church. It now becomes a matter of survival. Little to eat, hard work and Artt, a heavy taskmaster, is a fanatic, his answer to all, is that the Lord will provide. They do whatever they can't survive and some of it makes for difficult reading. This novel, though beautifully written, will not appeal to all. It is quiet, contemplative and moves, at times achingly slowly. But it is a novel of time and place, of parables told a with a real historical background, and skilled characterizations. Once I adjusted myself to the slowness, and gave myself up to the gorgeous prose and the predicament of these men, I savored their story. I thought the ending was a long time coming.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown & Company for an egalley in exchange for an honest review. From the Publisher: In seventh-century Ireland, a scholar and priest called Artt has a dream telling him to leave the sinful world behind. Taking two monks—young Trian and old Cormac—he rows down the river Shannon in search of an isolated spot on which to found a monastery. Drifting out into the Atlantic, the three men find an impossibly steep, bare island inhabited by tens of thousands of birds, a Thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown & Company for an egalley in exchange for an honest review. From the Publisher: In seventh-century Ireland, a scholar and priest called Artt has a dream telling him to leave the sinful world behind. Taking two monks—young Trian and old Cormac—he rows down the river Shannon in search of an isolated spot on which to found a monastery. Drifting out into the Atlantic, the three men find an impossibly steep, bare island inhabited by tens of thousands of birds, and claim it for God. In such a place, what will survival mean? MY THOUGHTS : I would never have imagined that the tale of three 7th century monks living on an isolated island trying to live a pure and simple life would grip me. But in the early morning hours of that Sunday morning, I couldn't stop turning the pages. Would I have appreciated a little more tension and revelations of secrets earlier on? Yes, I certainly would have liked that. But the atmosphere that Emma Donoghue builds is fantastic. As Artt becomes more and more fundamental in his beliefs, I truly felt myself fearful for Cormac and Trian. Truthfully, I was totally expecting something brutal and absolutely devastating in the ending. That being said, there was still a tinge of unexplainable feelings that did wash over me. In the nearly three weeks since I have read it, I am still mulling over some of those scenes. While it didn't walk away with feeling that it was a clear 4 star read, I would safely put this at a 3.5. Expected Publication Date 23/08/22 Goodreads review published 26/07/22 #Haven #NetGalley.

  10. 5 out of 5

    chantalsbookstuff

    I had a really hard time getting into this story. The idea around this book and the concept of 3 religious men and their story intrigued me. This book was too slow, it took to long to get off the ground. I love Emma's books and will keep a candle burning for her next best seller! Thank you Netgalley and the Publisher for this ARC. I had a really hard time getting into this story. The idea around this book and the concept of 3 religious men and their story intrigued me. This book was too slow, it took to long to get off the ground. I love Emma's books and will keep a candle burning for her next best seller! Thank you Netgalley and the Publisher for this ARC.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ron Charles

    Last year’s most unlikely bestseller was “Matrix,” a novel by Lauren Groff about an obscure medieval poet named Marie de France and a 12th-century nunnery. Maybe two years of covid seclusion had primed us for a story of monastic adventure, and certainly Groff’s rich style helped the book sing to many readers. But in addition to her enormous fan base — which includes Barack Obama — the novel succeeded because it eschewed fusty Christian theology and projected modern feminist ideals onto its ancie Last year’s most unlikely bestseller was “Matrix,” a novel by Lauren Groff about an obscure medieval poet named Marie de France and a 12th-century nunnery. Maybe two years of covid seclusion had primed us for a story of monastic adventure, and certainly Groff’s rich style helped the book sing to many readers. But in addition to her enormous fan base — which includes Barack Obama — the novel succeeded because it eschewed fusty Christian theology and projected modern feminist ideals onto its ancient canvas. Now comes Emma Donoghue, another popular and critically acclaimed novelist, with “Haven,” a monastic story of her own. But Donoghue has ratcheted up the stakes by taking on a trifecta of bestseller killers: First, she moves the clock back even further, to around 600 A.D. Second, she portrays a culture inhabited only by men. And third, her characters live and move and have their being in an atmosphere fully imbued with their primitive Christian faith. In short, very few readers have been praying for a novel like this. But “Haven” creates an eerie, meditative atmosphere that should resonate with anyone willing to think deeply about the blessings and costs of devoting one’s life to a transcendent cause. The novel opens with a kind of preface set at Cluain Mhic Nóis, a relatively new monastery with about three dozen monks in the center of Ireland. Not 200 years have passed since St. Patrick converted the island to Christianity, but. . . . To read the rest of this review, go to The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/books/...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Janelle

    I read this so quickly and easily, the story flowed and I was absorbed in it. I picked this up without reading the blurb and so had no idea it was an imagined account of the first monks to arrive on Skellig Michael. Years ago anything Celtic would catch my eye and one of my favourite books is about this island, Sun Dancing: Life in a Medieval Irish Monastery and How Celtic Spirituality Influenced the World and I find the whole idea of a settlement in such an inhospitable place absolutely fascina I read this so quickly and easily, the story flowed and I was absorbed in it. I picked this up without reading the blurb and so had no idea it was an imagined account of the first monks to arrive on Skellig Michael. Years ago anything Celtic would catch my eye and one of my favourite books is about this island, Sun Dancing: Life in a Medieval Irish Monastery and How Celtic Spirituality Influenced the World and I find the whole idea of a settlement in such an inhospitable place absolutely fascinating and of course, the little beehive stones huts they left behind. (Now the Skellig is famous for being Luke Skywalkers hideaway!) Emma Donoghue has written a fascinating account on what life would’ve been like for these monks, the fanatical leader Artt; Cormac, an old monk with building skills and young Trian, obedient and a lover of nature. Perhaps my interest in the subject matter makes me the perfect audience for this book. I loved it!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Debra

    Seventh Century, Ireland Artt, a scholar and priest, had a dream telling him to leave the sinful world behind. So, he sets out with Cormac and Trian. As the drift off into the Atlantic they come across a rocky island (Skellig Michael) and claim it for God. The island is relatively bare save for the rocks and thousands of birds who live there. The island is a bleak setting where survival is paramount and the search for food is important and following rules is paramount. I had both the kindle and Seventh Century, Ireland Artt, a scholar and priest, had a dream telling him to leave the sinful world behind. So, he sets out with Cormac and Trian. As the drift off into the Atlantic they come across a rocky island (Skellig Michael) and claim it for God. The island is relatively bare save for the rocks and thousands of birds who live there. The island is a bleak setting where survival is paramount and the search for food is important and following rules is paramount. I had both the kindle and audiobook versions of this book. I found myself going back and forth between the two but have to say the narrator had the perfect voice for this book. Speaking of the book, it is hard for me to rate. The writing is beautiful, and the descriptions are vivid and so well done. Everything takes place in a slow fashion. I am not a slow build/slow book fan but this one worked as I imagined their days full of toil, building, and transcribing must have felt. Plus, this is not an action book. It's a book about the men, their faith, their days, and their survival. Beautifully written, thought out and researched. #HAVEN #NetGalley Thank you to Hachette Audio, Little, Brown & Company, and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own. Read more of my reviews at www.openbookposts.com

  14. 5 out of 5

    Krista

    The Great Skellig falls away below the Plateau like green silk, and Artt’s suddenly filled with triumph. To think that he and his monks have travelled all this way, to the hidden haven saved for them since Creation. They’ve begun their work, and God looks on it and calls it good. In an Afterword at the end of Haven, author Emma Donoghue describes a jagged island off the southwest coast of Ireland — known as “Skellig Michael” since the early Eleventh Century, but likely first inhabited by monk The Great Skellig falls away below the Plateau like green silk, and Artt’s suddenly filled with triumph. To think that he and his monks have travelled all this way, to the hidden haven saved for them since Creation. They’ve begun their work, and God looks on it and calls it good. In an Afterword at the end of Haven, author Emma Donoghue describes a jagged island off the southwest coast of Ireland — known as “Skellig Michael” since the early Eleventh Century, but likely first inhabited by monks around the year 600 — and it’s in this time and place that she has chosen to set her story of a “living saint” and the two monastic brothers whom he enlists to found a new order at the uninhabited edge of the world. Donoghue is a master of historical fiction and she perfectly captures this time of stink and strain and superstition. She is also a writer who has lately taken to criticising the historical wrongdoings of the Catholic Church in her novels — which is a totally fair perspective for her to write from, but with a tale that focuses on a character who embodies the worst of the Church’s hubris, hypocrisy and misogyny, there weren’t a lot of surprises in this narrative; as pride goeth before a fall, so too does the reader anticipate a final reckoning. Certainly not a waste of time — Donoghue’s scenes and sentences are as engaging as ever — but this didn’t add up to anything special to this reader. (Note: I read an ARC through NetGalley and passages quoted may not be in their final forms.) Artt finds himself wondering if perhaps tales will be told about him. Is it arrogance to think it? The legend of how the priest and scholar Artt set off, with just two humble companions, in a small boat. The extraordinary pair of islands he found in the western ocean; how he claimed the higher one for God, and founded a great retreat in the clouds. The glory of the books reproduced there, and then generations of the copies’ offspring. The ceaseless hum of prayer always rising from that little hive. Artt — a learned scribe and famed converter of pagan hordes — has a dream in which he and two fellow monastic brothers found a new order in the empty ocean. The brothers from his dream — one old and hunchbacked and the other young and gangly — are readily released from their vow of obedience to the worldly Abbot of Cluain Mhic Nóis (if only to get rid of the priggish and judgmental Artt), and several days into a frightful water journey, the trio land on the larger of a pair of sheer-cliffed “skelligs”. While the older monk, Cormac — trained in masonry and gardening — would like to immediately start building a shelter and planting food, and the younger, Trian — an observant naturalist from a clan of fishermen — would like to start planning trading trips in order to barter for the things not found on their hump of isolated rock, their godly Prior, Artt, charge the men with building their monastery — carving a gigantic cross, building a stone chapel, locating an open-aired scrivenery — assuring the others that God will provide for their bodily needs. What could go wrong with a plan like that? As the narrative unspools, Cormac — a garrulous storyteller, to Artt’s silence-loving displeasure — is forever telling young Trian tales of the saints, and as they occur so often, they honestly began to feel like filler. “I’m put in mind of the voyages of holy Breandán and his seventeen companions,” Cormac will say, or he’ll relate the story of holy Brigit’s pupil Darlugdach (who put embers in her own shoes when she was tempted to go to a man in the night); we learn the tales of blessed Molua, holy Colm Cille, and of the time the austere Comgall caught some thieves, etc. When Artt tells a story for the improvement of young Trian, it’s generally along the lines of, “The wisest Church Fathers, and the ancients before them, all agree that a woman is a botched man, created only for childbearing,” or referring to the legendary Sionan as “this perverse daughter of Eve”. When Artt quotes the Gospel in ways that confound the other monks, Cormac thinks, “He doesn’t need to fathom the depths of scripture, only follow and obey.” And it is the vow of obedience — to a self-aggrandising fanatic — that will lead to hunger, exposure, and suppressed dissent; all for the glory of God (or at least for His representative on Earth). How did it happen that they came to this place? Was there a different way the currents and breezes could have taken the boat that would have washed them up on another, gentler island, where spring and summer and autumn might have played out differently? Or have the three of them always carried this terrible tale inside themselves? Also in the Afterword, Donoghue writes that the monks who settled Skellig Michael were “more practical” than her invented characters (bringing livestock to the island and engaging in trade to create a community that lasted centuries), so it was a conscious choice for her to inhabit her island with a prideful zealot and the underlings who were bound by vows of obedience to not push back against his denial of their corporality. And that’s certainly a fair situation for her to explore — there’s no doubt men like Artt have always existed — but the storyline unfolded predictably (view spoiler)[ the ultimate “twist” was telegraphed along the way and could certainly have been explored more deeply (hide spoiler)] , and with the frequent stories of the saints feeling like so much filler, this didn’t entirely satisfy me.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    Artt was legendary as a living saint, a holy man of great learning and experience of the world. He dreamed of escaping the society of fallen men, monks who wore embroidered clothing and feasted on roast swan and wine. In his dream he leaves Hibernia with two monks: Cormac, aging and skilled, and Trian, young and naïve. Artt believes that God will lead them to an uninhabited island where they can dedicate their lives to holy living. The pious Cormac and Trian agree to follow and obey Artt as thei Artt was legendary as a living saint, a holy man of great learning and experience of the world. He dreamed of escaping the society of fallen men, monks who wore embroidered clothing and feasted on roast swan and wine. In his dream he leaves Hibernia with two monks: Cormac, aging and skilled, and Trian, young and naïve. Artt believes that God will lead them to an uninhabited island where they can dedicate their lives to holy living. The pious Cormac and Trian agree to follow and obey Artt as their Prior. They pack a boat with the bare necessities. A chest holding holy scripture and communion supplies. Two bags of flour to make communion host. One extra garment among them. Oats and candles and one extra sail. Goatskin flasks of water and a pouch of seeds. A crowbar. Cloaks which they can wrap themselves in for sleeping. And they set off down river, to the sea, until they come upon a desert rock filled with roosting sea birds. Artt decides this is their home. As the monks struggle to find food and shelter on the desert island, Artt insists that prayer and God’s work come before concerns of the body. Cormac is tasked to built an alter and a chapel before they have shelter. He creates a midden to nourish his crop of greens and roots in the thin soil. Trian knows how to fish and is tasked with copying the holy scripture, standing outside, writing upon a natural rock slab. After their supplies run out, they use the birds and their eggs for food, then the oil and the bodies of the birds for fuel, and then are reduced to eating raw fish and seaweed. Cormac pleads to return to shore for supplies, but is told they will never leave, never return to the pollution of human society. God will provide, Artt tells them. In Haven, Emma Donoghue explores a faith that is idealistic, unmoving, inhuman. We have seen this time and again, whenever ideals are held closer than the beauty of the Earth and love of its people. It is a faith that put to death women and girls believed to be witches. It rounded up and killed people whose religion was different. We read about it in history books, and we see it today. Trian’s observation of the birds and nature mesmerizes him, raises questions. Trian feels guilt at massacring such abundance, an ominous pre-shadowing of humankind’s depletion of the abundance of the Earth. Donoghue’s descriptions of the island’s native flora and fauna are exquisite. That’s the problem with a vow of obedience. It tends to make sheep of men. from Haven by Emma Donoghue The crisis comes when Trian’s secret is out, and Cormac must decide between obedience and his own moral conscious, deciding if he is Artt’s man, or Christ’s. Donoghue was inspired by Skellig Michael and the monks that lived on the jagged island since 1044. I received a free egalley from the publisher through NetGalley. My review is fair and unbiased.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    Haven is unlike other historical fiction I have read in its setting, 7th century Ireland monastic life, and it’s specific direction-monks seeking isolated life away from monasteries in sites apart from other people such as offshore, unpopulated islands. A guest arrives at an Irish monastery. His name is Artt and he is known as a blessed man and scholar. While visiting, he has a dream that he leaves this place with two of the brothers, one young one old, and they row on the river out to the sea an Haven is unlike other historical fiction I have read in its setting, 7th century Ireland monastic life, and it’s specific direction-monks seeking isolated life away from monasteries in sites apart from other people such as offshore, unpopulated islands. A guest arrives at an Irish monastery. His name is Artt and he is known as a blessed man and scholar. While visiting, he has a dream that he leaves this place with two of the brothers, one young one old, and they row on the river out to the sea and on south until they find an island, the right island, to found their community. He is granted his wish to follow this dream, ask these two brothers to pledge obedience to him and receives needed supplies. Artt will be the Prior with Cormac and Trian as the brothers who pledge fealty. Some of my favorite parts are those sections which reflect the three men’s thoughts and internal struggles, especially once they are on the island. Artt’s thoughts are concerned with God and his wishes but also with Artt’s legacy. Cormac reflects on his pagan wife and family lost to plague before his conversion to Christianity and also he thinks constantly about practical steps he must carry out for their success and survival. Trian speculates about man’s place in the world as opposed to the birds and fish he seeks for dinner and how God separates all. Trian, as the youngest, is the food gatherer, a position he takes seriously. The author provides some history in a note at the end which relates that the island of Greater Skellig of this novel has been known as Skellig Michael since before 1044. I recommend this book for those who want a “quieter” book that does deal in basics of human life: belonging, faith, society, brotherhood and what these can truly mean when three people are on their own, separated from the rest of society. Thanks to Little, Brown and Company and NetGalley for a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Faith

    Artt is a priest who lures two other monks into leaving the sinful world behind and creating a new monastery on a small, uninhabited island. The island is really nothing more than an arid pile of rocks. Trian and Cormac are ensnared by Artt’s insane zealotry. Somehow it is God’s will that the 3 men live without reasonable food, water and shelter. This book is slow, boring and (blessedly) short. Maybe there is some parable here that I am missing because I am not religious, but I really didn’t get Artt is a priest who lures two other monks into leaving the sinful world behind and creating a new monastery on a small, uninhabited island. The island is really nothing more than an arid pile of rocks. Trian and Cormac are ensnared by Artt’s insane zealotry. Somehow it is God’s will that the 3 men live without reasonable food, water and shelter. This book is slow, boring and (blessedly) short. Maybe there is some parable here that I am missing because I am not religious, but I really didn’t get the point. This was not the right book for me. The men spent their time praying, building things to honor God (but not to live in), fishing, lugging stones and killing birds for food and oil. I was rooting for the birds. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    Emma Donoghue is a master of creating tension-ridden psychological dramas in confined spaces. Her break-out book, Room, demonstrated this unique skill. And now, in Haven, she once again holds eager readers in her sway – this time, in seventh-century Ireland in the isolated and rocky spot now known as Skellig Michael. Expect a slow burn of a story. Emma Donoghue has obviously done massive research and the novel is fascinating in its recreation of an ancient time and a foreboding destination. Depend Emma Donoghue is a master of creating tension-ridden psychological dramas in confined spaces. Her break-out book, Room, demonstrated this unique skill. And now, in Haven, she once again holds eager readers in her sway – this time, in seventh-century Ireland in the isolated and rocky spot now known as Skellig Michael. Expect a slow burn of a story. Emma Donoghue has obviously done massive research and the novel is fascinating in its recreation of an ancient time and a foreboding destination. Depending solely on God’s will, the three monks exist on a day-to-day basis on a land that offers little in food, drink, and shelter and how they manage to get by is fascinating to learn. But like any Emma Donoghue novel – and I’ve read the last six of them – the suspense and the drama ignite, because the author’s desire is not to just tell, but to delve deeply and explore the human psyche. This story is limited to three characters: a fanatical and zealous prior named Artt who dreams of forsaking the “filthy world” and its distractions in order to build a pure relationship with Christ. His two charges, Trian – a young man surrendered to the monks when he was only 13 and an older man, Cormac, a late convert who is renowned for his inspiring stories of faith – are there to help the prior fulfill his vision. The questions she poses are compelling: Does a didactic knowledge of the Bible and a vow of obedience and extreme sacrifice justify a holier-than-thou attitude? Is nature God’s holiest language and are its glorious beings, its birds and plants, our sisters and brothers? Or have we been truly awarded domination over all of it and if so, at what cost? Should monks be as humble as slaves, even when their own survival is severely threatened and every core of their being cries out against what is being demanded? As a non-believer, I have always marveled at how some “holy” people twist the message of love into a message of disdain for the world and its many varied people they believe God created. To me, we create our personal heaven and hell and diminish ourselves by ignoring our true Garden of Eden – the earth we are fortunate enough to inhabit – through our willful destruction of the planet and its wildlife. Needless to say, this book resonated with me. The ending is both organic and unexpected. I am so grateful for @LittleBrown for enabling me to be an early reader of Haven in exchange for an honest review. This is a story unlike anything Emma Donoghue has written before. Go into this with an open mindset – this is not Room or the Wonder – and you will be rewarded many times ove– and you will be rewarded many times over.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Federica

    I'm so in awe of Donoghue's ability of writing about so very different and varied subjects and always with such competence and mastery! Even if Haven wouldn't be my usual choice of a book, I have to acknoledge its beauty which resides firstly in the exceptionally skilled writing, secondly in the amount of research the author put into it and lastly in the competence of her characters' creation. Great book!! Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an hone I'm so in awe of Donoghue's ability of writing about so very different and varied subjects and always with such competence and mastery! Even if Haven wouldn't be my usual choice of a book, I have to acknoledge its beauty which resides firstly in the exceptionally skilled writing, secondly in the amount of research the author put into it and lastly in the competence of her characters' creation. Great book!! Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Linden

    Artt, a scholar and perhaps even a saint, arrives at a monastery in Ireland in the 7th century. He has a dream that two of the monks must accompany him to an uninhabited island, and that God will lead them. He chooses the elderly Cormac and the young Trian, both seen in his vision, as his companions; they sail until they reach a barren island. They swear fealty to Artt as their guide to God, but he seems more like a madman. As Artt attempts to punish any acts which he has not sanctioned, Cormac Artt, a scholar and perhaps even a saint, arrives at a monastery in Ireland in the 7th century. He has a dream that two of the monks must accompany him to an uninhabited island, and that God will lead them. He chooses the elderly Cormac and the young Trian, both seen in his vision, as his companions; they sail until they reach a barren island. They swear fealty to Artt as their guide to God, but he seems more like a madman. As Artt attempts to punish any acts which he has not sanctioned, Cormac finally realizes that he has “sworn fealty to a lunatic.” I loved Donoghue’s novels The Wonder and The Pull of the Stars, but this one, sadly, was a real slog for me to finish. Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for the ARC.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Marianne

    “Stray beams shard through gaps in the vast sky. The clouds shift, the light tints the Great Skellig brown, then grey, then green, as if God’s nib is inking in an illustration. Land and sea like opposite pages, intricate and bejewelled with colour, in a book laid open for all to read.” Haven is the twelfth novel by Irish-born Canadian author, Emma Donoghue. The audio version is narrated by Aidan Kelly. During his stay at Cluain Mhic Nois monastery by the River Sionan on the Isle of Hibernia, Artt “Stray beams shard through gaps in the vast sky. The clouds shift, the light tints the Great Skellig brown, then grey, then green, as if God’s nib is inking in an illustration. Land and sea like opposite pages, intricate and bejewelled with colour, in a book laid open for all to read.” Haven is the twelfth novel by Irish-born Canadian author, Emma Donoghue. The audio version is narrated by Aidan Kelly. During his stay at Cluain Mhic Nois monastery by the River Sionan on the Isle of Hibernia, Artt, a priest, scholar and hermit whose reputation for piety and conversion precedes him, cannot help but notice how poorly many of the monks, even the Abbot, observe their vows of poverty and chastity. He notes their greed, laziness, spite and lust with distaste. Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise, then, when the Lord speaks to him in a dream, ordering him to “withdraw from the world. To set out on pilgrimage with two companions, find this island, and found a monastic retreat” The Abbot is a bit puzzled at just whom the Lord has instructed him to take along: instead of a dozen strong, seasoned men of middle years, he will take only the old lyre player, Cormac with his dented head, and the young red-haired piper, Trian; one practical, one a bit of a dreamer. Within days they are sailing down the Sionan and out to sea, in search of their deserted island. Indeed by sail and oar, their craft arrives at a pair of skelligs, both inhospitable except to many species of sea birds, the larger deemed by the Prior as their destination. Their meagre supplies are carried to the tiny habitable patch, and a source of water located. Only a single tree, a stunted rowan, adorns this barren place. Artt insists they do not overload their little boat with unnecessary equipment and provisions, ensuring that, within weeks they run short of supplies and need to improvise for food, fuel, quills and candles. This requires them to be resourceful, although Artt declares that God always provides (inspiration, perhaps? serendipity?) for his devotees. Trian is filled with wonder as “Swallows wheel and cavort overhead in shrill numbers, the odd little brown flyer dipping low enough to beak an insect off the water between one wingbeat and the next. Now the whole mass forms a spiralling, swirling cloud, speckling then darkening into a winged shape that smears like ink, rips and dissolves again. So many! What can drive them to flock in such urgent numbers, to form one great bird shape of their countless pointed bodies?” The young monk’s love of nature means that he is disturbed by the amount of bird killing he is required to do to provide food, then fuel and eventually light. He is often hungry. And he misses playing his pipe. Cormac’s pragmatism sees him frustrated every time a suggestion for a useful construction is overridden. Their Prior may be learned, but seems naïve about survival, and spends long hours in silent meditation. Having vowed obedience to their Prior, Cormac and Trian shelve their doubts about some of Artt’s decisions. When he insists that a stone cross, an altar, a chapel and the copying of religious texts take precedence over food and shelter, one might wonder if his priorities are skewed by his godliness: is the man devoted, mad or a bit of both? Privation and suffering can be offered up to God, but winter approaches and the birds are departing: can the trio survive? The triple narrative provides three very different perspectives on the challenges the men face and their thoughts reveals their very human flaws: even holy men can be plagued by vanity and pride, anger and guilt, cruelty, rigid self belief, lack of charity, and rejection of criticism. And doubt, plenty of doubt. Donoghue’s extensive research into life in the seventh Century is apparent on every page: fascinating details like portable fire, a river vessel, crafting equipment and constructing stone buildings are subtly woven into the narrative. She conveys her era and setting with exquisite descriptive prose. Her imagined establishing of Skellig Michael is brilliant.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kate O'Shea

    A truly intriguing book. Its my first Emma Donoghue and for some reason, having read other reviews, I was expecting something a little strange. This is not strange, it is historical fiction of the best kind. It tells the fictional story of how the first monastery/chapel came to be on Skellig Michael off the Kerry coast of Ireland. We are told the story of the prior, Artt, and his two acolytes - Cormac and Trian, who leave Clanmacnoise Monastery for a more ascetic life on an island that Artt has d A truly intriguing book. Its my first Emma Donoghue and for some reason, having read other reviews, I was expecting something a little strange. This is not strange, it is historical fiction of the best kind. It tells the fictional story of how the first monastery/chapel came to be on Skellig Michael off the Kerry coast of Ireland. We are told the story of the prior, Artt, and his two acolytes - Cormac and Trian, who leave Clanmacnoise Monastery for a more ascetic life on an island that Artt has dreamed of. They land on the great skellig and begin to forge a life there with the plan that this will become a haven for those of a more religious bent. However the plans seem to diverge from what the three monks originally intended and what follows is a tale of hardship and endurance. On a personal note I've never been one to do without a creature comfort in my life, even camping was not for me. I've seen the Skelligs from far away but know the vagaries of the Kerry coast quite well. Quite how anyone survived to erect those beehive cells or build any form of church while trying to survive on what I'd basically a chunk of jagged rock is beyond my understanding. As the story unfolds I have to say had I been on the skellig with Artt I would cheerfully have chucked him off the highest point at the first opportunity but then I am not, nor ever have been, religious. Emma Donoghue weaves an entirely believable story and the characters of the three monks are carefully observed. All in all a great book but definitely not weird in any way; simply beautiful and stark and somewhat disturbing. Highly recommended.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sarah-Hope

    Haven is a marvel of a book, and it's helped me sort through a topic that's been on my mind lately: slow reads. The last three books I've read, including Haven, have all been slow reads, but with Haven that pace is essential to the nature of the book. With the other two, the slow pace accomplished little more than separating the reader from the narrative. So I want to argue that Haven proves the point that slow reads, like most things in life, can be good, bad, or in between. And with Haven, tha Haven is a marvel of a book, and it's helped me sort through a topic that's been on my mind lately: slow reads. The last three books I've read, including Haven, have all been slow reads, but with Haven that pace is essential to the nature of the book. With the other two, the slow pace accomplished little more than separating the reader from the narrative. So I want to argue that Haven proves the point that slow reads, like most things in life, can be good, bad, or in between. And with Haven, that slow read is a blessing. The premise underlying this historical novel is straightforward and summarized aptly in the promotional material for the book: "In seventh-century Ireland, a scholar and priest called Artt has a dream telling him to leave the sinful world behind. Taking two monks—young Trian and old Cormac—he rows down the river Shannon in search of an isolated spot on which to found a monastery. Drifting out into the Atlantic, the three men find an impossibly steep, bare island inhabited by tens of thousands of birds, and claim it for God." That's the fast version of the plot, but it doesn't begin to embrace all the novel includes. Take a moment to think about that plot line. It's slow. It has to be slow. Slow like the journey down a major river in a watertight, but difficult to manoeuvre boat. Slow like the increasing slowness with which that boat travels on the open sea, hidden for days at a time in a fog that obscures the actual journey from those journeying. Slow like the process of finding a livable space on a rocky island with almost no topsoil, with a single tree, with thousands and thousands of birds—more birds than any of our characters could even have imagined. Now, think about the last few words of the promo material I quoted above: "and claim it for God." Haven becomes a novel not just about an arduous journey, but also about the kinds of actions humans commit when they believe they're being directed by God. Nothing exists except that it has been created for ultimate use by man (I deliberately use the male pronoun here, given the time in which the novel is placed). Birds, their nests and eggs and young, trees, rocks, seaweeds and land weeds, air and water don't exist in their own right. They exist because at some point man will decide they are useful *things* and will treat them like things—with the kind of results one might predict. So, yes, Haven is a slow read, but that slowness is essential: first, to the narrative, and second, to the reader's experience of that narrative. In Haven, destructive choices aren't made in a single moment; destruction doesn't happen suddenly; destruction of land and soul is a slow, slow, cumulative process. If you have the patience to for a book that asks you to spend extended time inching forward, if you appreciate the opportunity to consider each of those inch-sized moments thoroughly and thoughtfully, Haven will provide an excellent, if sometimes heart-breaking, read. It will leave you simultaneously crushed, cynical, and hopeful. That mix of crush, cynicism, and hope is as real in our own times as it was in the 7th Century, and we need to examine that reality in detail and at length. I received a free electronic review copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley; the opinions are my own.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Avalon

    Haven is an ominous survival novel by Emma Donoghue, the same talented author that brought you Room and The Wonder. The story follows Prior Artt who receives a vision from God guiding him to start a monastic retreat on an Irish island. Accompanied by two monks, Cormac and Trian, the trio touches down on Skellig Michael, a sharp and jagged peak, like a finger pointed towards the heavens. But building a holy settlement on an inhospitable isle proves to be exceedingly challenging. And as time goes Haven is an ominous survival novel by Emma Donoghue, the same talented author that brought you Room and The Wonder. The story follows Prior Artt who receives a vision from God guiding him to start a monastic retreat on an Irish island. Accompanied by two monks, Cormac and Trian, the trio touches down on Skellig Michael, a sharp and jagged peak, like a finger pointed towards the heavens. But building a holy settlement on an inhospitable isle proves to be exceedingly challenging. And as time goes on and the hardships pile up, the monks’ very existence grows increasingly tenuous. I had mixed feelings about Haven throughout, alternating between boredom at the monotony of the monks’ daily lives and a prickling anxiety that reached a fever pitch towards the novel’s conclusion. It’s worth noting that I struggled with the overly graphic descriptions of animal hunting which made my stomach churn. I also got the impression that there was an element of thinly veiled criticism of the Catholic Church and possibly religion as a whole. While I was not personally offended by this, it may irk other readers. In less capable hands I’m not convinced that the story would have worked, but Emma Donoghue is queen of her craft and pulls it off with aplomb. This book is truly resplendent when it’s unearthing the secret psychological yearnings of the characters and their raw and captivating inner monologues. Like Icarus who flies too close to the sun, Haven highlights the human foible of hubris in all its glory. And how the relentless pursuit of perfection is inevitably doomed to unhappiness. Haven is a gritty and thought provoking novel that continues to live on in my head rent free. Readers who enjoy edgy ‘survival of the fittest’ historical fiction- think an episode of ‘Lost’ on a much smaller scale- will lap this right up. Buckle up for a claustrophobic and unsettling tale that will leave you haunted. Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Sakash

    This is pretty much as advertised: the journey of three monks in 7th century Ireland take a boat made of hides to the open sea searching for a deserted island to escape the sin of humanity. Well, they find it. (Not a spoiler since it's in the synopsis.) And there's not much there. Except for birds. So. Many. Birds. Their life is austere and guided by Catholic ceremony. The leader's stubborn piety over practicality quickly becomes tiresome, and the story only becomes more frustrating and strange b This is pretty much as advertised: the journey of three monks in 7th century Ireland take a boat made of hides to the open sea searching for a deserted island to escape the sin of humanity. Well, they find it. (Not a spoiler since it's in the synopsis.) And there's not much there. Except for birds. So. Many. Birds. Their life is austere and guided by Catholic ceremony. The leader's stubborn piety over practicality quickly becomes tiresome, and the story only becomes more frustrating and strange before ending (thankfully) abruptly. I guess I was hoping this would be more interesting than the blurb made it sound, but I wouldn't recommend it unless hearing every excruciating detail about eking out a religious living on a barren island is your thing. With thanks to Goodreads and Little, Brown and Company for this ARC giveaway.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Marianne

    “Stray beams shard through gaps in the vast sky. The clouds shift, the light tints the Great Skellig brown, then grey, then green, as if God’s nib is inking in an illustration. Land and sea like opposite pages, intricate and bejewelled with colour, in a book laid open for all to read.” Haven is the twelfth novel by Irish-born Canadian author, Emma Donoghue. During his stay at Cluain Mhic Nois monastery by the River Sionan on the Isle of Hibernia, Artt, a priest, scholar and hermit whose reputatio “Stray beams shard through gaps in the vast sky. The clouds shift, the light tints the Great Skellig brown, then grey, then green, as if God’s nib is inking in an illustration. Land and sea like opposite pages, intricate and bejewelled with colour, in a book laid open for all to read.” Haven is the twelfth novel by Irish-born Canadian author, Emma Donoghue. During his stay at Cluain Mhic Nois monastery by the River Sionan on the Isle of Hibernia, Artt, a priest, scholar and hermit whose reputation for piety and conversion precedes him, cannot help but notice how poorly many of the monks, even the Abbot, observe their vows of poverty and chastity. He notes their greed, laziness, spite and lust with distaste. Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise, then, when the Lord speaks to him in a dream, ordering him to “withdraw from the world. To set out on pilgrimage with two companions, find this island, and found a monastic retreat” The Abbot is a bit puzzled at just whom the Lord has instructed him to take along: instead of a dozen strong, seasoned men of middle years, he will take only the old lyre player, Cormac with his dented head, and the young red-haired piper, Trian; one practical, one a bit of a dreamer. Within days they are sailing down the Sionan and out to sea, in search of their deserted island. Indeed by sail and oar, their craft arrives at a pair of skelligs, both inhospitable except to many species of sea birds, the larger deemed by the Prior as their destination. Their meagre supplies are carried to the tiny habitable patch, and a source of water located. Only a single tree, a stunted rowan, adorns this barren place. Artt insists they do not overload their little boat with unnecessary equipment and provisions, ensuring that, within weeks they run short of supplies and need to improvise for food, fuel, quills and candles. This requires them to be resourceful, although Artt declares that God always provides (inspiration, perhaps? serendipity?) for his devotees. Trian is filled with wonder as “Swallows wheel and cavort overhead in shrill numbers, the odd little brown flyer dipping low enough to beak an insect off the water between one wingbeat and the next. Now the whole mass forms a spiralling, swirling cloud, speckling then darkening into a winged shape that smears like ink, rips and dissolves again. So many! What can drive them to flock in such urgent numbers, to form one great bird shape of their countless pointed bodies?” The young monk’s love of nature means that he is disturbed by the amount of bird killing he is required to do to provide food, then fuel and eventually light. He is often hungry. And he misses playing his pipe. Cormac’s pragmatism sees him frustrated every time a suggestion for a useful construction is overridden. Their Prior may be learned, but seems naïve about survival, and spends long hours in silent meditation. Having vowed obedience to their Prior, Cormac and Trian shelve their doubts about some of Artt’s decisions. When he insists that a stone cross, an altar, a chapel and the copying of religious texts take precedence over food and shelter, one might wonder if his priorities are skewed by his godliness: is the man devoted, mad or a bit of both? Privation and suffering can be offered up to God, but winter approaches and the birds are departing: can the trio survive? The triple narrative provides three very different perspectives on the challenges the men face and their thoughts reveals their very human flaws: even holy men can be plagued by vanity and pride, anger and guilt, cruelty, rigid self belief, lack of charity, and rejection of criticism. And doubt, plenty of doubt. Donoghue’s extensive research into life in the seventh Century is apparent on every page: fascinating details like portable fire, a river vessel, crafting equipment and constructing stone buildings are subtly woven into the narrative. She conveys her era and setting with exquisite descriptive prose. Her imagined establishing of Skellig Michael is brilliant. This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Pan Macmillan Picador.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sharon May

    Many thanks to NetGalley, Little Brown & Company and Hachette Audio for gifting me both a digital and audio ARC of the latest treasure by a favorite, Emma Donoghue, hauntingly narrated by Aidan Kelly - 5 stars! Taking place in 7th Century Ireland, a monk, Artt, has a dream that he needs to take two other monks, young Trian and older Cormac. The dream states that they must leave the sinful world and travel to a deserted island to start a monastery. They must leave behind all but the barest of esse Many thanks to NetGalley, Little Brown & Company and Hachette Audio for gifting me both a digital and audio ARC of the latest treasure by a favorite, Emma Donoghue, hauntingly narrated by Aidan Kelly - 5 stars! Taking place in 7th Century Ireland, a monk, Artt, has a dream that he needs to take two other monks, young Trian and older Cormac. The dream states that they must leave the sinful world and travel to a deserted island to start a monastery. They must leave behind all but the barest of essentials and travel to what is known today as Skellig Michael. I started reading the digital copy but soon switched full time to the audiobook, because the narrator's haunting voice added so much feeling to the words. Emma Donoghue has once again created an entire world in which to immerse yourself, only to make you pause, think, and grow - which to me is what reading is all about. This book has so much to think about - as the three monks faced so very many trials, are these problems that God sends to teach us or are they from the devil to tempt us towards sin? And the arrogance of so many religious leaders that do terrible things to others in God's name. I am a Catholic and loved listening to the prayers and rituals of these monks. The faith these men showed was so commendable but God also gave us free will to think about our actions, so maybe not such blind faith in man and more in God. This book shows how fanaticism usually always leads down the wrong path. Not an easy book or one for everyone, but one that I highly recommend!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Aoife

    2.5 stars I received a copy of this book from Book Break UK in exchange for an honest review. In 7th century Ireland, three monks leave a monastery to take on a journey unlike any other they have done. Eventually, following days on the river Shannon, the discover an isolated island perfect to found a new monastery - that on Skellig Michael. The three men, one old, two young, begin their new lives trying to exist on a bare scrap of land with only puffins for company. Will they survive the wilderne 2.5 stars I received a copy of this book from Book Break UK in exchange for an honest review. In 7th century Ireland, three monks leave a monastery to take on a journey unlike any other they have done. Eventually, following days on the river Shannon, the discover an isolated island perfect to found a new monastery - that on Skellig Michael. The three men, one old, two young, begin their new lives trying to exist on a bare scrap of land with only puffins for company. Will they survive the wilderness, and each other? I'm so disappointed to say this book just didn't really do it for me at all - I found this one a tough read to connect to, and feel engaged with. I normally love Emma Donoghue's writing and I really loved how she used this story to not only travel way back into Irish history but explore religious fervor and idolatry, isolation and survival. But I think the story itself, and some of the characters just really left me wanting - I'm not a religious person but grew up going to church like many an Irish child, and I have religious family members but the religious sacraments and rituals in this left me feeling a bit bored, and while I enjoyed the different characters in the three monks, I also feel like we never really got to know them either. My favourite character was probably Cormac, a quiet, older man who came to the religious life very late having lost a wife and children, and almost dying in various Clan battles. From his stories that all linked into Irish mythology to the tender way he looked after Trian, and eventually standing up to Artt's ridiculous ways, he was my stand up guy in this. I found Artt very hard to read at times as he went from okay, to bad to worse. There's nothing I hate more than men heavy with religious pride using the 'god will provide' and 'look what god gave us' when it's actually just hard work that results in progress. It's kind of like the 7th century version of manifesting. I ended up becoming really angry and frustrated at Artt for all the other men, and religious people, who have acted in similar ways and think they are always right. Trian was a lovely character and while I was convinced he may have been a woman in disguise for a large portion of the book, I'm not sure what we were suppose to do with the (view spoiler)[ presumably hermaphrodite reveal (hide spoiler)] . It was really just used as a catalyst for Artt's nastiness to come out and Cormac finally standing up to him and that was it. I would have liked more exploration and discussion around the topic and possibly have it more clear but I'm not really sure what to think to be honest. Also on a side note, for some reason I found the slaughter of the birds and chicks really hard to stomach in this one. I think because they had been left in peace for so long and suddenly these horrible men come and literally rob the babies from the nests, it was a tough one for me. The writing in this was good like I would expect from this author. It just wasn't one for me unfortunately.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mai

    Ebook giveaway from NetGalley

  30. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    First off, big thanks to Harper Avenue (Harper Collins Publishers Canada) for sending me a physical advanced reader copy of this book. I'm always eager to get to check out an upcoming title before it's release! Sadly, Haven was just not my cup of tea. The story of three religious monks' journey to discover an island and built their own sacred place was intriguing. I loved the seventh-century Irish setting and that it was a quick read. I struggled with the snail's pace of the story and thought th First off, big thanks to Harper Avenue (Harper Collins Publishers Canada) for sending me a physical advanced reader copy of this book. I'm always eager to get to check out an upcoming title before it's release! Sadly, Haven was just not my cup of tea. The story of three religious monks' journey to discover an island and built their own sacred place was intriguing. I loved the seventh-century Irish setting and that it was a quick read. I struggled with the snail's pace of the story and thought the characters were all just too dull and unrelatable for me (but that's probably because I'm a heathen 😈). Anyways, take my review with a grain of salt and if you want to check out Donoghue's newest book Haven; it's out tomorrow!

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