Author: Ellie O’Neill
Simon & Schuster RRP $32.99
Review: Monique Mulligan

Enchanted IslandIn The Enchanted Island, Ellie O’Neill returns to the whimsical magical realism that enchanted readers with her debut, Reluctantly Charmed. Whimsy is O’Neill’s thing – she has a talent for writing fanciful and funny novels with a very Irish feel.

A story where nothing is as it seems, The Enchanted Island is set on the “phantom” or vanishing island of Hy-Brasil. Irish myths place the island in the Atlantic Ocean west of Ireland, and describe it as “cloaked in mist except for one day every seven years, when it became visible but still could not be reached” (or so says Wikipedia). There’s some more interesting info about the island here. It’s to this fictionally real (see what I did there?) place that Maeve O’Brien travels to get one man’s signature on some paperwork.

For Maeve, this job is a career boost at the law firm where she works. Jobs are on the line and everyone’s wondering who’ll be cut next, so she seizes the opportunity to prove herself to the higher-ups. It’s not all great in her personal life either, since she’s blown out her friend’s credit card and been kicked out of their flat, and the only love life she has is with a recurring one-night-stand man. What she doesn’t expect is for the island to feel so unwelcoming. The older people on the island are strangely hostile to her presence, including Sean Fitzpatrick whose signature she needs before she goes home, and strange things keep happening on the island that no one will explain.

What follows is a funny and charming story as Maeve tries to get a much-wanted signature, discovers magical cellulite-busting seaweed, makes friends with an eccentric bunch of characters, meets Killian, a dreamy islander who makes her want to “kiss the living daylights out of him”, and learns something about herself in the process. As with Reluctantly Charmed, there’s an undercurrent of darkness as the enchanted island’s forces work in mysterious and protective ways.

But lo and behold, oh joy, oh rapturous joy! I could hardly believe it. The after photo was such a thing of beauty that even Michelangelo would want to travel in a time machine to capture it for some ceiling art. A smooth, positively radiant-skinned arse. It was bloody perfect. It worked.

O’Neill has brewed up another witty and warm tale that is sure to enchant readers looking for a bit of escape. It’s an enjoyable read that will leave you wondering where time magically disappeared to.

Available from good bookstores. My copy was courtesy of Simon & Schuster as part of a blog tour.

Check out the other reviews here.

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