Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
Kindle Edition
Reviewed on 10/22/2021
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Author Biography

LAWRENCE was raised across from a hill shadowing Black Rapids Creek in Ottawa, Canada. The towering toboggan hill fed an early appetite for challenge, tall tales and doing the impossible. The black forested river valley set his dreams.

He spends his days as a Systems Analyst and Technical Architect for Security and Intelligence concerns. The days long past in another life as sailor, hard rock miner, surveyor, logger and even a carpenter influence his writings. His debut novel "CLOCHÁN", which was published in the Fall of 2021, will be followed by "WRIGHTS". The latter is scheduled for release in 2022.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite

Clochán by Lawrence P. O’Brien takes us back to the late eighteenth century and the mystical, superstitious Emerald Isle. As a young six-year-old boy, Kevin Neal had watched his entire family butchered by the English soldiers in the rebellion of 1798. He watched his two brothers die in battle and then ran for his life as the soldiers rode out from the village to attack the women and children gathered on a hillock to watch their menfolk fight the English. As he saw his mother and sister mowed down and murdered by the rampant soldiers, he knew his life was changed forever. Finally making it back to the small stone cottage the family called home, Kevin, now alone in the world, was adopted by a local family. When the Walsh family finds themselves evicted from their farm by their harsh landlord, they take a journey to Tintern Abbey, where Mr. Walsh has been promised some work as a stonemason. There, Kevin is reunited with his childhood sweetheart, Anty, who is no longer interested in Kevin, but for Kevin, Anty is still the love of his life. As the boy grows into a man, strange happenings and vicious murderous mutilations dog the small community that lives around the Abbey. The blame for the violence is laid squarely at the feet of the legendary, mystical beast, the Puca. Determined to discover who is behind the murders and deal with them once and for all, Kevin will face the greatest challenge of his life, which will test the young man’s determination, courage, and recuperative abilities.

Clochán is a fascinating insight into life as a tenant farmer in Ireland under English rule. Author Lawrence P. O’Brien has woven a story of mystical creatures and Irish lore around a good old-fashioned murder (most foul) mystery. Most startling for me was the total contrast between those with money (i.e. power) and those without. The lives of the poor tenant farmers were frugal and of subsistence level in comparison to their indolent, frivolous, and arrogant English power-broker neighbors, who clearly ruled Ireland of the time with an iron fist. The narrative also highlighted the great gulf that existed even then among the tenants, between the Papists and the Protestants. The mistrust of the Catholics by the Protestants, despite their equal rank in society, was palpable and made any form of collective action against the evil-doers difficult. The descriptive writing and scene-setting by the author were another plus of this narrative. One could easily feel part of the windswept hills and lush valleys of Ireland as the story unfolded. Special mention should be made of the character development. The descriptive style allowed the reader to literally get inside the head of the characters, especially young Kevin Neal. There is plenty of action, violence, and derring-do for the most ardent adrenaline junkies and yet it is beautifully soothed by the thoughtful and the mystical. This is a good, solid, adventure mystery that ticks all the right boxes in the reader’s head, and I can highly recommend it.

Rabia Tanveer

Clochán by Lawrence P. O'Brien is a historical fiction novel with strains of fantasy and mystery. Life had never been good to Kevin Neal, and he learned that lesson early on. Chaos, death, and loneliness followed him and will not stop until they consume him. Kevin was just a boy when he lost everyone and everything in the Irish Rebellion. Now that he is older, his only source of comfort is Anastasia Kelly, a.k.a. Anty. The two of them had a lot in common, yet they could not be more different. Just when he thought things were finally looking up, chaos came back to find and punish Kevin once more. Was there any way for Kevin to be happy in a life that was surrounded by war and its consequences? Can Kevin, Anty, and the people in their lives survive, or would they lose it all once again?

I loved how Lawrence P. O'Brien divided the story into four parts and kept the conclusion separate from them. The narrative was heavy with dread and death from the beginning. I had a sense of foreboding and a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. The author divided the parts according to the years in Kevin's life as well as how those years impacted history as we know it. Kevin was traumatized and hurt, but he didn’t let the past dictate his life. People around him played an important part in his progress. While Anty was almost his obsession, other people such as Douglas, Aiden, and even Mr. and Mrs. Walsh helped in Kevin’s growth. I was not expecting to become so emotionally attached to Kevin and his journey. The mystery behind Anty, the need to find the truth, and the overall feel of Clochán were great. While the ending was sort of open-ended, I could not help but feel hopeful for Kevin and his future.

K.C. Finn

Clochan is a work of fiction in the historical fantasy and mystery genres. It is suitable for the general adult reading audience and was penned by author Lawrence P. O’Brien. The book follows a young boy named Kevin Neal who lives through the Irish Rebellion of 1798, only to be the sole survivor of his family. As he grows older, the violence of the Rebellion seems to continue as Kevin seeks out a girl he once knew named Anastasia Kelly. As he tries to understand what happened to her since they last saw each other, the Rebellion’s after-effects threaten the Abbey around which they live.

Stories of violence and the after-effects of it on the people who have survived it are always hard-hitting for readers. The historical setting of the Irish Rebellion adds a political dimension to the heartbreak the characters of this story suffer as they try to rebuild themselves and their lives after suffering terrible losses. Author Lawrence P. O’Brien is clearly an excellent student of history as the book is well researched and the era is presented with a grim authenticity that takes the reader back in time to the much more dangerous world of the past. The characters of Clochan are wonderfully engaging, the ideal protagonists for a story of this type. They are affected by their experiences, of course, but still manage to allow for relatability with readers. Their journey throughout the story is the beating heart of the excellent drama and mystery. I recommend this book to everyone.