Page Count: 143
Release Date: August 2018
I’ve always said that reading and reviewing debut works can be tricky. The reason is that the author intends to focus on being over-decriptive (style over substance) in the way that they tell the story, and as a result, the core essence can get lost. It’s something they learn to master as their career progresses. When it comes to Sean O’Connor’s The Mongrel, it’s no different, but only to a certain point, thankfully.
The novella tells the story of Erin Greene, who finds herself trapped in the wilderness of the Wicklow Mountains, and as she fights to keep to sanity in order, she realises that she isn’t alone.
The Mongrel takes awhile to get going. Another common problem debut authors have is that they feel the need to help the reader along, which doesn’t always have to be the case. However, after a shaky opening, it’s the middle section of the book that shows what The Mongrel and Sean O’Connor are all about.
It’s frenzied, but in a good way. It mirrors what’s happening on the page, and it’s here where Erin comes out of her shell and becomes a character you can fully visualise. Adding in a few thoughtful and compelling twists that felt like they needed to be there (and not just there for the sake of it), this is where you see the book’s full potential.
O’Connor continues on with a hardhitting ending. The full circle of events, and the metaphors it alludes to with the wolves, both show that O’Connor is a clever person, and he likes to show it; but perhaps he needs to appreciate the reader and allow them to do the work.
The Mongrel has a compelling story, and a worthwhile message. However, it might take a bit of effort to get through the beginning. If you can do that, then you’re in for a treat.