Today, we return to OfBlood and Honey by Stina Leicht where we left Liam in Father Murray’s care and Kathleen was able to give Bran a clue about the mysterious coin from the Redcap. To catch up or review, see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.
When Liam wakes in the parish house, he learns that someone vandalized his stepfather’s car and his stepfather has made charges that he did it. Terrified he’ll go back to Long Kesh, Liam hides in the parish house during mass. Father Murray and Kathleen convince Liam’s stepfather to drop the charges, and Mary Kate comes to collect Liam for the march that afternoon in protest of internment without trial, which he does not want to attend. However, Mary Kate refused to take no for an answer. Against his better judgment, Liam goes to the march. There, he and Mary Kate get swept up into the crowd and end up on Aggro Corner, where Liam was first arrested. All hell breaks loose. The Paras attack with rubber bullets and real gunfire. They start slaughtering the protestors, and Liam does everything in his power to get Mary Kate to safety. But the Redcap from the first chapter appears as one of the Paras. He taunts them, threatens to kill Mary Kate, and when Liam throws himself over her to protect her, begins to beat him.
Reader Comments: Unfortunately, I don’t see any way out of this for Liam or Mary Kate, so I’m very afraid for them. I like Mary Kate, but she sure has a penchant for getting Liam into trouble.
Writer Comments: Here, Leicht takes us back to the setting of that first chapter and uses it to accentuate the tension of the whole scene. Granted, the odds are against a repeat of that first chapter, but savvy readers know better. They know Leicht won’t let the tension dip, so something will happen. This fear for the characters, largely from Leicht selecting a setting associated with danger, raises the tension tremendously. Then, not only does Leicht pay off that tension, she takes it further by having something even worse happen. She also lets us see improvement in Liam. In the first chapter, he was terrified and, while sympathetic, a bit cowardly. In this chapter, his maturity shows. He thinks rather than simply reacting, and he throws himself on Mary Kate to protect her, a true act of heroism.
Liam ends up in prison again, but Malone is a slight step up from Kesh. Though she goes to university, Mary Kate is able to visit him, and he’s beaten less often. Jack, a fellow prisoner and provisional IRA member, even teaches classes, which he insists Liam attend. To impress Mary Kate, Liam learns some Irish phrases and says them to her on their next visiting time. One of the guards freaks out and ends the visit at once. No Irish allowed. Liam fights when they haul him off and ends up in the infirmary with broken ribs and a deep fury that compels him to inform Jack he wants to join up. However, Jack won’t have him because, despite all Liam’s efforts to conceal the fact, Liam is practically illiterate. As Jack puts it, “‘We don’t need more heroes to die for the cause. If the British could be repelled with a wall built of dead heroes, Ireland would have been free long ago.’” Rather, the IRA has to get smarter. He offers Liam a deal: Liam learns and passes his exams without cheating and Jack will recommend him himself. Two years later and out of prison, true to both their words, Liam passes his exams and joins the IRA. As part of the deal, he gets a job as a cab driver in Belfast. He calls Mary Kate at once and asks if she’ll still marry him. She agrees and insists it must be in May, despite his mother’s warnings that May is a bad month for a wedding.
Reader Comments: Yay! Liam is free and better off! I’m so afraid of what’s going to happen next, something dreadful probably. Still, it’s nice for him to get a couple victories in there.
Writer Comments: There should be moments in a story where a character does something he would never have done at the beginning. In the beginning of Of Blood and Honey, Liam refuses to get involved in politics. He refuses to such an extent that he avoids conversations on the subject and is ignorant of current figures and specialized efforts. However, a good author finds the keys to turn that compel a character to act outside of their initial apparent nature. Liam wants nothing to do with politics, yet beat him up enough, push him around, unjustly imprison him twice, and threaten his rare moments with the woman he loves, and you will move him.
Thank you for joining me for these chapters of Stina Leicht’s Of Blood and Honey. Next Monday, we’ll pick up with chapters 11 and 12. Until then, join me Wednesday and Friday for further forays into books, the speculative, and life.