Welcome back to the review and read of Stina Leicht’s and Blue Skies from Pain. When last we left Liam Kelly, ex-IRA wheelman and half-fey, he had narrowly escaped Haddock killing him again and Eirnin, another half-fey his father forbade him to interact with, came to visit and ask for a meeting to encourage a truce to end the war amongst the fey.
Father Thomas brings Father Murray the wonderful news that the church will extend the truce with the fey and that they are beginning to doubt that Liam is one of the Fallen. However, Monsignor Paul, the inquisitor, wants a private meeting with Liam, one Father Murray may have no choice but to grant.
When Father Murray goes to sleep later, Bran meets him in his dream, demands answers and reminds Father Murray that he will pay for the part of Liam’s blood that was spilt despite the fact that Murray tried his best to protect Liam. Bran’s liking for Murray increases when Murray makes no protest to this. Further, Bran asks Father Murray’s help in protecting Liam from the ghosts.
Reader Comments: Yay, I’m glad to see Father Murray back in the action. He’s such a fun character.
Writer Comments: One of the biggest reasons why Father Murray ranks high on the likable character scale is because of his heroic traits. No matter how many flaws a hero possesses, he needs some heroic traits. Father Murray’s come in the form of devotion to justice and goodness and an innate nobility and honor that constantly influence him. Oh, he may try to convince himself to go against this and analyze his options to the contrary in a very reasoned fashion, but whatever he tells himself, his nobility and honor are as inseparable as the needle of a compass.
The next morning, Bran gives Liam a talisman to protect him from Haddock’s murderous shade. Unfortunately, this talisman will also disrupt his connection to Oran and, more importantly, Mary Kate, who Oran said needed Liam. Bran insists that it would be bad for Liam to cling to Mary Kate’s ghost, for both of them. Grudgingly, Liam hangs the talisman about his neck.
Reader Comment: Oh dear, why do I have the feeling this is going to result in even worse for Mary Kate? And, of course, Liam will feel simply awful when he discovers that. I have a feeling Oran will also have a few choice words for him too, but Oran tends to have a humorous way of delivering those choice words, so, one way or another, it should be entertaining.
Writer Comments: Liam has no good choices, certainly no easy ones. Haddock is intent on hurting and killing him. So many from Father Murray, the fey, and Mary Kate are relying on Liam. No matter what he does, someone is likely going to get hurt. A hero’s choices should never be easy, and it is in the act of navigating those choices and their consequences that we see the true heart of a character and receive some of the most gripping stories.
Liam and Bran meet Father Murray at the hospital, but Bran swiftly leaves to allow Father Murray and Liam privacy. On the way to the prayer room, someone smelling of old gore bumps against Liam, and Liam’s sense of foreboding increases. In the prayer room, Liam smells Mary Kate, and when he takes off his talisman to show it to Father Murray, Haddock appears. While Father Murray and Father Thomas prepare for a swift exorcism, Liam argues with Haddock and comes to the realization that he let Haddock haunt him because of his own guilt. Gripping the talisman in his fist, he punches Haddock in the face, and the ghost disappears.
Reader Comments: It can’t be that easy. Even if Haddock really is gone, there’s something else. Nothing for Liam is ever that easy. I also have the feeling that the Fallen are in the hospital and aware of Liam and that, whoever is after Mary Kate, is also nearby. That person might be Haddock, but I’m not so sure.
Writer Comments: If Leicht had chosen to write this scene without its undercurrent of unseen threats, it would have been far slower and less engaging. Liam and Father Murray have a conversation about Liam’s fear that he’s going insane, but amidst all Liam’s other troubles, as a reader, I’m not that worried about that. Rather, my pulse quickens at the mention of the man smelling of old gore, the smell of Mary Kate, the hound inside Liam snarling of danger, and the threat of malicious spirits in the air. All these give the scene a much stronger sense of tension that transform it from a quieter scene to one worthy of sitting on the edge of one’s seat. Scenes should have multiple layers of tension and conflict. These layers add to the complexity of a story and help ensure that each moment is riveting.