Granny Irene’s Guide to the Afterlife Book one: Revenge By Ingrid Hall- a Review
This is the first book in a series by North East author Ingrid Hall. Book One: Revenge is a large tome coming in at over 800 pages. It is also written entirely from the perspective of the main character Granny Irene, a deceased octogenarian from North Shields whose favorite phrase is ‘start thinking with your brains and not your bum!’ So be warned: expect geordieisms and unconventional grammar! For non Geordies it may helpful to think of the Big Brother voice over man or watch an episode of Geordie Shore (well – maybe not) in order to establish your reading ‘voice’!
The main plot driver of this novel is that Granny Irene, recently deceased, has found herself in Viking Heaven and isn’t quite sure why! It transpires that her murderous grand-daughter is about to trigger Ragnorok and Granny must prevent it . Along the way she must rescue a rogue goddess, explore her past lives and try to bring down a government. All in a days’ work for Auld Granny Irene.
The book features a number of prominent North East landmarks – St Mary’s Light House, Lindisfarne, Tynemouth Priory are all pivotal to the story and it also co-opts a number of North East and Scottish historical figures who feature in the narrative in somewhat unconventional roles. Granny also provides a moving description of two 19th Century pit disasters that resulted in miners demanding better conditions. Granny’s views on politics are of a distinctly socialist variety and there is a strong sense of outrage and social injustice expressed, this comes across strongly in the description of Granny’s experiences during the 1984 miners strike which explores the hardships experienced by the miners families and the sense of community it fostered.
The other main plot driver is that a futuristic government have legalised the exploitation of the working classes – women particularly – by opening a flagship brothel in Whitley Bay. Granny Irene must work to bring this oppressive system down.
This novel also describes Irene’s spiritual journey exploring the nature of past lives and the afterlife. After all, Granny Irene has to figure out why she has the job of putting the world to rights. Because of this, and the sheer vastness of the story, sometimes the events may seem to be a little disconnected, but persist with it. Everything and everyone appears in the novel for a reason and this is all tied up at the end -but with enough questions left over to ensure the next volume should be quite intriguing…
All in all, this is an unconventional and sometimes controversial read, but a good one.
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