The author Julie Kavanagh has stepped away from the more familiar ground in this skilful, multi-faceted historical narrative ... She draws in the strands of the story with extraordinary dexterity. She portrays the poverty and the brutality inflicted upon the starving, disease-ridden communities of rural Ireland. She describes in the most touching terms the devastation among the families of both the murdered and those men caught up in the conspiracy who paid for it with their lives ... This narrative is valuable for its exposition of the unbridgeable gulf in understanding and perspective between Ireland and England in those times. The Invincibles arguably represented in microcosm the forces that determined Ireland’s ultimate decision to break with England and to go its own way.
Kavanagh devotes special attention to Parnell, for good reason, because he is so important to this story and so beguiling. It’s refreshing to encounter an author willing to take the time to render political personalities in such fine detail ... The tale of the Phoenix Park murders is not unfamiliar, but Kavanagh recounts it with a great sense of drama ... Kavanagh’s account reminds me of the very best of true crime, the sort that Dominick Dunne used to write for ?Vanity Fair. Like Dunne, Kavanagh never hurries; she takes the time to describe characters and places with exquisite detail. An engaging story is rendered beautiful because of the tiny ephemera that a less sensitive author might have carelessly discarded.
... tragic events are vividly recounted ... Ms. Kavanagh...deftly outlines the conspiracy ... But the Phoenix Park murders are merely the hinge of a fluent, well-researched study of Anglo-Irish relations in the Victorian era ... Ms. Kavanagh’s narrative of high politics and low intrigue, ranging from Dublin to Downing Street and the high seas, brings to vivid life a bloody chapter in the troubled history of Britain and Ireland.