Book Review: The Maid of Ballymacool

Book Review: The Maid of Ballymacool

About the Book:

Brianna Kelly was abandoned at Ballymacool House and Boarding School as an infant. She has worked there since she was a wee girl and will likely die there. Despite a sense that she was made for something more, Brianna feels powerless to change her situation, so she consoles herself by exploring the Ballymacool grounds, looking for hidden treasures to add to the secret trove beneath the floorboards of her room.

When Michael Wray, the son of local gentry, is sent to Ballymacool to deal with his unruly cousin, he finds himself drawn to Brianna, immediately and inescapably. There is something about her that feels so . . . familiar. When Brianna finds a piece of silver in the woods, she commits to learning its origins, with the help of Michael. What they discover may change everything.

Fan favorite Jennifer Deibel invites you back to the Emerald Isle in the 1930s for this fresh take on the Cinderella story, complete with a tantalizing mystery, a budding romance, and a chance at redemption.

My Thoughts:

I feel I need to divide my thoughts into two sections.

First, I liked the book and the cover is stunning. The story was well thought through and the characters were engaging. Brianna was filled with joy and faith, but also struggled with disappointment, loss and how to trust in the midst of betrayal. Michael was privileged, while also being down to earth and concerned about oppression, injustice and appropriate use of power. The author looked beyond circumstances and behaviors to the things that were underneath. There was a genuine thread of how choosing faith, faithfulness and forgiveness stand in opposition to how revenge, bitterness and pride play out in a life. All in all it was an engaging and, ultimately, heart-warming tale.

I did struggle with the injustice presented and the abuse described, as I was meant to. There was much in this novel that was heavy, even when it was an ultimately satisfying story.

Second, I struggled with the author’s choices in writing a historical fiction set in an actual place while changing the history of that place. With historical fiction I have no issues at all with filling in the gaps with imagination. However, re-writing the occupation of the house by the IRA to become a decimation of its inhabitants by the British left me uneasy. I would have wished the author would have chosen a fictional name for the house and family rather than building the story of an actual location on an alternate history. The story of the silver tray was fascinating and it was an intriguing inclusion in the story, so I can see why she would have wanted to keep that connection to Ballymacool. Just because it didn’t sit right with me doesn’t make it wrong and the author explains her changes in the postscript. Still, it would have been my preference to use alternate place and family names for an alternate history.

All in all I can recommend the book to you as a tale of faith and hope fulfilled.

I received a free digital copy of this novel with the understanding that I would share my honest opinion with my readers.