Roman Holiday.

Roman Holiday,

A film review & discussion by Kate O’Brien.

This time last year I was getting ready to jet off to Italy for my very own roman holiday, so I am very excited to be talking about this classic Audrey Hepburn film this week on

Roman Holiday was released in 1953, directed by William Wyler. The film stars the iconic, elegant, Audrey Hepburn & Gregory Peck. This film was quite the success, Hepburn took home the Oscar for best actress & the costume design also won awards. Roman Holiday is considered by many to be one of the most romantic films in history.

When the film was originally released it was in black & white, the version I own is in black & white however I believe that there are versions of this film that have been colourised. While this film was not Hepburn’s first ever role, it was her first time to appear in an American film.

Roman Holiday is a romantic comedy which follows Princess Ann (Hepburn) who, while on a tour of European cities, manages to run away from the confines of royal life when in Rome. Exhausted by the constant schedules, the constant smiling, the constant very scripted answers to questions & routine, Princess Ann just wants a break. She wants a chance to see the city she is in, & she wants to spend the day doing exactly what she pleases. While on her escape from royal life, she meets Joe Bradley, a reporter for the American News Service. At first Joe does not recognise her, but when he learns that his new friend is actually the Princess, he’s determined to get the hottest scoop of the summer. He teams up with his friend Irving Radovich, a talented photographer. The pair bring the disguised Princess on a fun filled tour of Rome, snapping photos all day long as they go. Needless to say, hijinks ensue, & feelings develop, & by the end of the film, the reporter & the Princess are very much in love. Spoiler! Apologies, although I think if you’ve watched any romantic comedy before then you knew where this plot was going before I told you.

This story is nothing new, it is nothing revolutionary. It is simply good fun.

It is a straightforward, charming, easy to follow story about two people from different worlds who find a connection while they explore a beautiful city. They eat, they drink, they laugh, they dance, they famously ride a Vespa through the streets of Rome, & Hepburn is elegant in every step she takes. 

The film has no huge stakes. We worry that Princess Ann will be caught while she is exploring & later, we worry that she will be betrayed by the people she thinks are her new friends, however it soon becomes clear that Joe is falling for her too. As I said, the stakes are not huge & yet in my opinion the film manages to still subvert expectations.

In a film like this, romantic comedy conventional norms as we know them in 2023 lead us to expect certain things. As an audience, we expect a huge fight when Princess Ann learns that Joe is actually a reporter & he’s been using her all along to get a scoop. That scene never comes.

We expect Princess Ann to renounce royal life, unable to return to the schedule, instead she leaves it behind in the name of love. That scene also never comes. Instead, after bidding Joe a tearful farewell, the pair depart after a passionate kiss. The Princess returns to her life of royal duties, & Joe leaves to return to work. A press conference is held. The Princess’s absence was put down to sickness, but now she is “better,” & ready to meet the press. Joe is in the crowd.

For the first time ever, the Princess is honest in her answers. When asked what her favourite stop on this European tour has been, she begins her usual diplomatic speech about how each stop is special in its own way, but then she stops. She looks straight at Joe, & she exclaims proudly that her favourite stop was Rome. It is a memory that she will always treasure.

The film ends with Joe & Irving giving Princess Ann the envelope of all the photographs they took on their roman holiday, & the Princess is reassured that their secret adventures are safe. Joe will not be using her for his story, as by now she is more important to him than any hot scoop. The pair go their separate ways once more, exiting the press conference, walking away in opposite directions before we fade to “The End.”

I really enjoyed rewatching this classic as it is a favourite of mine. I think the film is charming. It is a light, summer watch. I think Hepburn is dazzling onscreen, & I do think that despite the stakes not being too big or too stressful, the film does manage to be very poignant especially at the end. Two people who have bonded so much, who have grown to love each other, are going in separate directions. It is likely that these two characters will never meet again, but they both will always cherish the memory of their roman holiday, particularly Princess Ann as this trip symbolises so much for her. It was her freedom, she was doing what she wanted when she wanted, she was expressing herself. She was not representing anyone or anything, she was not doing a duty. For this short time, she was living just for herself, she had so much fun. She found love & adventure in Rome & she will always look back on that time with fond memories. Yet it could not last. She had to return to her royal life & I think there is a true poignancy in that.

If you’ve never seen Roman Holiday, then I would highly encourage you to watch it.

It is a fun, poignant, bright & charming film. You’ll fall in love with Audrey Hepburn & you’ll want your own Vespa!

Stay tuned as there is much more coming up on

If you’d like to read all about my very own roman holiday, then click the link to read my literature inspired travel guide from last summer.

Be sure to follow along on Instagram @katelovesliterature for more.

A Lifelong Love of Literature.

A book discussion by Kate O’Brien. 

This week’s piece is a little bit different to what I usually publish. 

Today I had the pleasure of attending the 2023 Children’s Books Ireland Awards that took place in Merrion Square. I am a book reviewer for CBI & I absolutely love attending the CBI Awards because they are such a lovely event. The awards celebrate & encourage a love of reading in young people as well as acknowledging & celebrating the amazing writers who create gorgeous books for younger readers. It is an honour to attend & I had a fantastic time. 

I’ve been looking forward to the CBI Awards for a while now & so I felt inspired to put together a shortlist of some of my favourite books from childhood. I always talk about how I believe that the books we read when we are young open up the world of literature for us, & a love of reading as a child can grow & develop into a broad, curious, love of literature as an adult. If you’re like me, that childhood love can grow into a passion, so much so that it can even become your job. I consider myself extremely lucky because I do work in a literary field & I get to do what I love every single day, but I wouldn’t be doing what I do now if I was not an avid reader & if I had not been encouraged to read everything & anything that I could get my hands on. 

I have quite the library at home, which you will see snippets of fairly often if you follow me on Instagram @katelovesliterature – I have books that were given to me as presents when I was a toddler so it is clear to see that some of these books have been read again, & again, & again. 

I thought it would be fun to talk about the books that lead to a love of literature – some of them anyways! This is not a review, this is not a list of recommendations although if this shortlist inspires you to pick up a book then happy days, but my intention behind this week’s piece is to simply talk about six books that I loved to pieces when I was a young reader. 

I’m going to talk about six books that I absolutely loved in no particular order. 

Matilda by Roald Dahl. 

I adored Matilda. This book was published in 1988 & I believe that I would have read it from the age of six or seven upwards. I remember loving it because of the way Matilda triumphed over the adult bullies in her life. I remember hoping to have a teacher as absolutely lovely as Miss Honey. 

When I reread the story of Matilda as an adult, I find it very moving. It is a story that captures the helplessness that one can experience when we’re young because as children, we are at the mercy of the adults around us. Some adults do have the attitude that because children are smaller & younger, they don’t matter & these adults treat them however they please & I think this story is still relatable in the way that it accurately describes the way children envision what being an adult will be like. When you’re little, in school, being bossed around, the idea of growing up & getting to make your own rules feels like a dream. I still wish that more teachers would be like Miss Honey. 

Cinderella …Countless Versions. 

I cannot tell you how many versions of Cinderella I own. I have the Grimm version, the Perrault version, I have a Walt Disney book version, I have collections of fairy tales for children that include Cinderella, I have illustrated editions … you get the picture. To this day Cinderella is my favourite fairy tale. I adored it when I was a little girl. It has always been a story about hope & magic. I loved when the tattered rags became a beautiful ball gown & I think I will collect editions of this tale for the rest of my life. I know that it has faced criticism, as many fairy tales have, but I truly feel that so many critiques miss the point. This is a tale about a young woman who survives horrible, abusive conditions. It is not about waiting for a Prince to come, or about magic saving the day, it is a story about a kind person who is facing hardships but she does her best to remain kind anyways & when all hope is lost, magic allows her to go to the ball & have some well-deserved fun. It is magical & I think that sense of pure escapism is what I’ve always loved most about the tale of Cinderella.  

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. 

I received a hardback edition of this book when I was seven & I absolutely loved it. I read this story countless times. I fell in love with the moors & the curiosity that drove Mary to need to know what was behind the hidden door. The idea of having a secret place is what always stood out to me when I was a younger reader. I loved the idea of having a beautiful place that only I knew about & I remember the descriptions in this book really standing out to me when I was younger. There is a moment where Mary is wandering through the many halls of the house & I believe she loses her way or almost does, & this moment stood out to me when I was little. I do remember being worried for her at the idea of her getting lost. I wanted her to find her way back to her room. 

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. 

This book still makes me emotional. When I was little I had a pink, velveteen rabbit who I loved very much & so this story always made me think of that rabbit. The idea that the velveteen rabbit was real all along is an idea that I still love. In many ways I think this story can be used to help explain why children’s wonder is so important. At the end of this book, the velveteen rabbit becomes “real,” and by “real,” the book means that the toy rabbit becomes like an actual animal rabbit with fur & whiskers etc. The rabbit then lives with other rabbits in the wild, but the child considered this rabbit “real,” all along. So the question is posed – when did the rabbit really become “real?” – when the rabbit was no longer a toy, or was the rabbit always “real,” because of the child’s belief? Personally I think the rabbit was always real, because it was a source of joy & comfort to the child. The child cherished the velveteen rabbit & so it was always real. 

Wonder is like that. We believe in so many things when we’re little & even though they may not be “real,” they are real for a time. This is a very charming story that I still love today. 

Guess How Much I Love You bySam McBratney. 

I’m not sure if the phrase “I love you to the moon & back,” originated in this book, but this is where I always remember it from. This book is absolutely charming & filled with the most lovely watercolour illustrations. I believe that this book was read to me very often & I continued to read it again, & again on my own. This is a book that is about the bond between a parent & their child. This story is filled with beautiful, grand expressions of love. It is a very sweet tale, a very simple one, yet I love it all the same. It is definitely a book that I hope to read to someone someday. 

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. 

One of my older cousins loved this book & I remember my mam buying it for them. 

Eventually I read it myself & I loved it. I couldn’t stop turning the pages. I probably read it for the first time when I was seven or eight, or even nine, & I doubt I would have used this word then, but looking back on it now, I remember thinking that this book was “darker,” than anything else on my bookshelf. This book was the first book I read that was a black comedy. 

This book featured adults who were actively seeking to harm children, these orphans couldn’t seem to catch a break. This book (& later books in the series), would have been one of the first mystery books that I read. Today I study literature so today I am able to recognise the gothic elements of these novels, I can discuss in much more detail about how important these texts are because they highlight how some adults can blatantly see that wrongdoings are happening, but instead of helping, they choose to look the other way. I think this book is an important one for young adults in particular to read. Sometimes, some adults do choose to look the other way instead of helping, & while this is a hard lesson, it is one that everyone needs to learn. Today I am able to explain properly how I find Snicket to be an incredibly detailed, evocative writer, but back when I was nine, I didn’t have the broader, literary vocabulary that I luckily have today. All I remember thinking was that this book stood out, it was scarier, darker, it felt more “grown up,” when I was younger & I had to keep turning the page. 

There you have it, six books I loved when I was little. This is not an objective list, I’m not highlighting in great detail why I think these are great books, if you feel inspired to read some of these texts then go right ahead although I was not supplying them as a list of recommendations. I really just felt inspired to go through my collection, pick out some books that were clearly well loved by my younger self & tell you about them. As I was putting together the above list of six, I do feel like some common themes emerged. All six books mentioned above include some sort of escapism & magic, all of the above stories, aside from Guess How Much I Love You perhaps, include some form of a character or characters feeling as though they don’t belong & all of the stories listed feature a protagonist finding a sense of belonging/home after being on the outside so clearly when I was younger I enjoyed magic, I enjoyed adventures, & I enjoyed that cosy feeling that comes with the sense of belonging. 

I’d love to hear what your childhood favourites were so feel free to leave a comment below & stay tuned as there is lots more to come here on

The Book Of Lost Things: Dark, Twisted, & Utterly Moving Fairy Tales.

The Book Of Lost Things by John Connelly.

A book review by Kate O’Brien.

This book was published in 2006 by Hodder & Stoughton.

I have the beautiful, illustrated edition that was published in 2017.

The illustrations were created by Anne M. Anderson.

The Book Of Lost Things is a dark & twisted fairy tale written in the third-person that tells the story of David, a twelve year old boy who is mourning his mother. David’s world is turned upside down when his mother dies & his father remarries another woman very quickly. Not only does David have to get used to his new stepmother & a new home, but he also must adjust to having a new baby brother. David understandably really struggles to accept his new home life as he desperately misses his mother & he feels that his father moved on too quickly. David fears that his father does not miss his mother at all & he’d rather reinvent life with his brand-new family.

David finds solace in his books as he & his mother shared a passion for reading, but David’s world changes & he learns that stories are not always what they seem when the fictional world of his beloved fairy tales bleeds over into his reality. When David finds himself stuck in a fairy tale of his own, he must go on a journey to learn that good & bad, right & wrong are not always so straightforward.

I have always stated that I find age ratings difficult to apply, because a child’s reading level does not always adhere to their age & some children are more mature than others so they might be interested in, & able to handle more mature topics earlier than their peers, however I will say, & I do not say this lightly, that The Book Of Lost Things is not a children’s book. It sits on the line between being a YA novel & just a novel, full stop. I do think that fans of YA narratives would enjoy this novel as it does present tropes that are typically presented in YA narratives.

David feels like an outsider & so he goes on this journey believing that he is the outsider. In many ways, he does fulfil the archetypal YA role of “the chosen one,” there are some dystopian ideas at play because the fairy tale land that David is facing is in danger, but in many ways this novel steps beyond the realm of YA tropes. One example is the adults in this novel are not useless. The adults that David encounters play a very important role in shaping his journey as ultimately, I would argue that The Book Of Lost Things is a coming of age story & it particularly focuses on David maturing & growing from a young boy into a man.

The reason I say that this book is not a children’s book is because there is a very dark, & at times a very sinister undertone present throughout the book. This book deals with very mature & violent themes that some readers may find very upsetting and/or disturbing. This book focuses very heavily on lost & missing children, & there is a focus on the fact that there are people who do have ill intent & wish to harm children so while this book tells a very moving tale, it is not one for younger readers.

In terms of style, I would suggest that this novel is somewhat similar to A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. Both texts feature a young boy who is becoming a man. Both boys are mourning their mothers, & both boys learn through stories that life is more nuanced than we think it is when we’re young, & right & wrong is not always so clear. Storytelling is a huge part of both texts too, as both boys have stories told to them as a way to help them grow & learn. At times I felt that David came across like he was clearly a twelve-year-old whose perspective was being written by an adult, yet at other times, he felt extremely realistic & his feelings & actions matched his age & his struggles which made him very easy to sympathise with & root for.

I think that fairy tale lovers especially will really enjoy this book because it features elements of classic fairy tales such as Snow White, Rumpelstiltskin, Hansel & Gretel, but John Connelly adds his own spin to these well-known tales & there is one twist in particular that I won’t spoil, but I thought it was really clever.

The key themes explored in this novel are ideas of overcoming grief & anger, maturing from boyhood into manhood, family & a sense of belonging, & most importantly, the key theme of this book in my opinion is the lesson that right & wrong is not always as black & white as we might assume it is & as we grow, it is up to us to learn how to see beyond our emotions & make decisions that are right for us, but that are also right for the people around us. This book really illustrates how the choices that one person makes can really impact, & even really hurt another person & if we choose to do something knowing that it will really hurt someone else then we must be able to face the consequences that come with that decision.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book & I would highly recommend The Book Of Lost Things

By John Connelly. It was an exciting, poignant read that felt like a homage to classic, dark, & Grimm fairy tales. It was a very moving tale & I was highly invested throughout. I read this entire book in one evening as I kept having to turn the page, so I would absolutely encourage readers to pick up this book but be aware that it does feature some dark themes & topics that some may find upsetting & it is not a book for younger eyes.

Stay tuned as there is lots to come here on

Be sure to follow me on Instagram @katelovesliterature if you don’t already.

You will see all the updates about what is coming up.

Peter Pan & Wendy: Is This The Best Disney Readaptation?

A Film Review & Discussion by Kate O’Brien. 

There will be spoilers ahead – You’ve been warned! 

J.M Barrie’s Peter Pan has widely been hailed as the children’s literature classic text for a long time, & the figure of Peter Pan is often the icon used when it comes to encapsulating & celebrating the freedom of youth & the idyllic nature of childhood. 

There are many interpretations of the tale of Peter Pan … some say it is a story that celebrates the magical nature of childhood, others say it is a cautionary tale about what we miss out on if we refuse to grow up, some have even added a horror twist to the tale, imagining that the character of Peter Pan is an angel figure who guides children who have died very young to Neverland, which is a kind of heaven-like place. All of these different readings make the text one that can be returned to often. There are many imaginings & readaptations of the tale, the latest one being Disney’s Peter Pan & Wendy, directed by David Lowery. The film was just released on Disney + (April, 2023). 

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I felt disappointed with some of Disney’s latest releases. I felt that Hocus Pocus 2 lacked any real stakes & I was looking forward to Disenchanted as I loved the original when I was little, however I was disappointed by the plot & some of the lazy tropes that were employed. As someone who loved the original Disney animated version of Peter Pan when I was little & as someone who studies children’s texts often, I was excited when I first saw the trailer for Peter Pan & Wendy, however I do remember thinking, “They better do this well.” 

I was pleasantly surprised by this readaptation. I didn’t read any other reviews before sitting down to watch it. The only feedback that I’d heard before watching the film for myself was that, “Jude Law had fun with the role of Captain Hook,” (paraphrased) . A comment like this is usually code for, “The film was just okay, and the actor was okay, but he had fun,” however I came away from this film feeling like Jude Law stole the show. This version of the story focused more on Wendy & Captain Hook rather than on Peter Pan himself, & while this decision did have some minor drawbacks that I will expand upon in further points, I felt that this was a really great decision overall. Captain Hook in this readaptation was a wonderful, compelling, highly fleshed out character & he had some brilliant lines. In fact, Captain Hook uttered my favourite line in the entire film. “You find me a child who truly knows the difference between right and wrong. And I’ll show you a man who can’t remember why it mattered in the first place.” 

This readaptation focused a lot on Wendy & her readiness to grow up. At the beginning of the film she does not feel ready, which prompts her to wish to go to Neverland in the first place. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this modern take on Wendy. The character of Wendy in the original is a young girl who is quite looking forward to growing up & she is happy to envision herself as a mother to the Lost Boys, she also looks forward to being like her own mother & having a family some day. It is important to remember that the original version of this tale was prominently popular in the 19th century so Wendy’s wishes reflect the societal view of what was appropriate for women to aspire to at that time. In this version, Wendy is still maternal in the sense that she loves her younger brothers & she cares for them. She also comforts & sings to the Lost Boys, but in this readaptation, Wendy confidently states that she’s not even sure if she wants to be a mother someday. I found this refreshing as the change didn’t strip Wendy of her maternal nature altogether, as one can be maternal if they are not a mother & one can care for children without wanting their own, but this change did not rule out the possibility of her ever wanting children in the future as she has yet to grow up to see what the future holds & how she feels. It felt remarkably nuanced & nuance is something that these Disney readaptations in particular often lack. I also felt like her apprehension around going off to boarding school & growing up felt authentic. She was excited about all that there is to come, but she was also nervous about the impending changes & this felt extremely realistic. 

As I said above, this version gives audiences a more fleshed out Captain Hook, one that was once a friend of Peter Pan’s. The two boys played together & shared  adventures around Neverland until Captain Hook, who back then was simply James, decided that he missed his mother. He was just a boy after all. James wanted to go home, so he was banished by Peter Pan, but he never made it home. Instead he was found & raised by pirates & eventually he grew up to be the infamous Captain Hook. I’ve said it in a point above, but it is worth repeating, Jude Law stole the show. He played the part with great depth & I was drawn in by his performance.

When this film began, I predicted that the pirates may be my favourite & I was right. 

The atmosphere created on the pirate ship was fantastic. The fact that this film incorporated sea shanties was brilliant. The music was fantastic. The singing, chanting pirates created a rich, magical atmosphere & I must say that seeing Skull Rock was brilliant. 

Now I have arrived at the point of Peter Pan himself. While I enjoyed that this film focused on Wendy & Hook, & Tigerlily to a certain extent (she plays a huge role in helping Wendy in the final battle), there were, in my opinion, some drawbacks that came with this choice. 

Alexander Molony played the role of Peter Pan & while I think he did a good job with the material, I felt like he was largely absent for quite a lot of the film & when he was onscreen, I felt that he didn’t command my attention in the way that the role of Peter Pan needs to. 

I’m not sure what age Molony was during filming, but his version of Peter Pan felt very young & he seemed really childish in certain scenes – which could have been a direction choice & if so, this would make sense due to what this version did with the character, but I’ll admit that while watching I could not help but think of Jeremy Sumpter. 

Jeremy Sumpter played Peter Pan in the 2003 live action adaptation of Peter Pan. I can admit that I may be biassed as this was the version of the story that I grew up watching, & Sumpter may have been older, but I just felt he was so much more commanding in the role. Peter Pan is a mischievous, somewhat spoiled, idealistic, heroic, freedom loving character & he is supposed to be charming & hopeful even though at the end of the story, Wendy & the others are always meant to return home. Molony’s delivery was quieter. I will restate that this could have been a director decision so I am not blaming the actor as that would be unfair. He looked great in the role & he played his key scenes with a quiet, gentle sincerity, especially towards the end of the film, however there were some moments that this quieter approach just did not work. A great example is the iconic sword fight scene between Captain Hook & Peter Pan that takes place at the film’s climax. Captain Hook & his pirates have taken Wendy, Tink, & the Lost Boys captive, we as the audience are supposed to feel like all is lost as Peter Pan has been beaten, but then when Peter Pan arrives to fight Hook, we’re supposed to be thrilled to see him. We’re supposed to cheer. Our excitement should mirror the excitement of Wendy & the Lost Boys, but in this version, Wendy was given a much more active role in the sword fight, she grabs a sword herself & tackles some pirates so when Peter Pan arrives again, I couldn’t help but feel slightly underwhelmed. Instead of cheering for him, I kind of felt like Wendy was doing fine on her own & I’d rather the film allow her to have this fight for herself since the plot focused more on her anyways. Having Peter Pan come back to fight Captain Hook felt slightly out of place. It felt like the film was going in a fresh direction, but then someone said,  “No wait, we have to have the iconic fight scene between Peter Pan & Captain Hook.” 

This point leads me to the one other critique I have about the plot. As I’ve already stated, this readaptation focused more on Wendy & Captain Hook, especially Hook as his backstory felt tragic & misunderstood instead of downright evil. Wendy talks a lot about the idea of “growing up wrong,” as Peter Pan insists that if you grow up, you’ll end up evil like Captain Hook, & this mode of thinking highlights his immaturity. Wendy realises that growing up does not automatically mean that one will end up like Captain Hook, she states that he grew up wrong. Again, this is a very nuanced take from Wendy & it felt like the plot was leading up to an interesting plot point – Captain Hook grew up to be a resentful, bitter adult because of being banished by Peter Pan & because of being raised by pirates. The focus on having Wendy & Captain Hook discuss his banishment from Neverland, all because “he dared to miss his mother,” (paraphrased), & the fact that Wendy tells Captain Hook that he was just a boy & it was only natural that he missed his mother felt like the film was setting up Peter Pan to be the bad guy as there are subtle hints that the Lost Boys also miss home, & miss their mothers, but Peter Pan shuts the conversation down whenever it arises. He is also upset & angry that Wendy does not love Neverland. She wants to grow up, she wants to be more than she is now & Peter Pan cannot accept that. 

In my opinion, it seemed like the film was gearing up to be much more nuanced overall in tone, with Hook not being a villain just for the sake of it & instead having him be hurt & angry about Peter Pan’s actions, while also perhaps highlighting that Peter Pan & Neverland are not as wonderful as they seem. I won’t go as far as to say that the film was going to call Peter Pan the bad guy outright, but the film was definitely gearing up to state that he was not totally innocent in his feud with Captain Hook. It felt like the film’s narrative was being set up to go in one direction, but then perhaps this idea about a more nuanced take didn’t get a green light further on in the production process, because while watching it felt like the film was gearing up to do something different, but ultimately had to allow Peter Pan to return at the end to fight Hook & have his iconic sword fight in which he is cheered on as the heroic, hopeful figure. 

Now I will say that there is a moment where Peter Pan does apologise to Captain Hook for hurting him, & the film ends with Peter Pan returning to Neverland as always & he & Captain Hook share a knowing smirk. Their game will begin again because it must, it always does, for there is no Peter Pan without Captain Hook & vice versa. On one hand I like this idea, I like imagining that these two know what their roles on Neverland are & they play them out each time, but underneath it all there is a fondness that comes with knowing someone such a long time – for as the story goes, generations of Wendy’s family return to Neverland again & again, each of them having their magical adventure before returning home to grow up so the story of Peter Pan & Captain Hook will inevitably play out over & over again too. I like this thought because at the end of the film, there is an implication that Wendy’s own mother has been to Neverland too because when asked “who is that boy?,’ she, with a knowing smile, says, “Peter Pan.” 

So yes, on one hand I like the idea that Peter Pan & Captain Hook know their roles on Neverland & choose to play them accordingly, however on the other hand, part of me wishes that the film had have been able to commit to going with a darker, more nuanced tone overall, simply because an entirely fresh take would have been extremely interesting. 

The themes of Peter Pan & Wendy, naturally, were all about the idea of growing up & being ready to do so. The film discussed ideas around the fear of growing up, while also discussing the idea of looking forward to all that comes with maturity – the classic themes that are always discussed when the tale of Peter Pan is told. Due to the backstory between Peter Pan & Captain Hook, the film also delved into themes of loss & betrayal. Peter Pan felt betrayed by Captain Hook & vice versa. Captain Hook felt an immense sense of loss because he missed his mother & then he never made it home again, so all these years later he is still missing her. He is also angry & hurt because of the way he was treated by Peter Pan.

 I would argue that the film hinted at discussing the idea of nature vs nurture because there is an emphasis placed on how Captain Hook “grew up wrong.” I think this would have been interesting if they had gone into more details when discussing how Captain Hook really could not have escaped becoming the man he is today due to being found & raised by pirates as people are usually products of their upbringings & it can be hard to break out of cycles/habits that we’ve been taught all our lives. I think it would have been interesting if Captain Hook had have let Wendy & the Lost Boys go rather than proceed to make them walk the plank as this would have shown him breaking the cycle & stepping away from his archetypal, preformulated role in this story – however a notion such as this might be too complex for what this film was, which was a Disney readaptation. I do not say this in an insulting way, but there are certain boundaries that Disney films must abide by whereas a different production company could have afforded to perhaps take more risks with the tale & try new things that would inevitably go in a somewhat darker direction. 

A point that I really enjoyed was Wendy’s personal growth. At the beginning of the film when she is hesitant to grow up & embrace the changes that are coming her way, when she thinks happy thoughts in order to be able to fly, all of her thoughts are memories of when she was little. She envisions herself as younger, as she considers her past to be the happiest time in her life, but then, at the film’s climax when she is forced to walk the plank, she never hits the water because her happy thoughts allow her to fly. This time though, all of her happy thoughts are looking forward, she envisions herself growing up, going to school, making new friends, having a joyful home, and the last image she sees is one of her as an older woman with a smile on her face. This scene made me emotional. I thought it was a really well done, poignant moment because while life is full of ups & downs, & change can be scary, life is long & you never know what is around the corner. I thought that a scene that showed a young woman looking forward & being so excited about it was really lovely. This moment, this use of showing her happy thoughts was also the perfect way to illustrate & show, not tell us as the audience how Wendy has grown. 

Overall I would recommend this film. I had fun watching it. I believe that Peter Pan & Wendy is the best Disney readaptation that has graced the screens in a long time. It was fun, there was a great atmosphere, & the cast was very strong. It was a familiar, beloved story retold with some welcomed changes & even though I do wish that the plot could have followed through with some of the more nuanced ideas that I believe it was setting up, I really enjoyed this take on the story anyways. I loved what they did, I just wish they had gone even further with it. 

Follow me on Instagram @katelovesliterature if you don’t already for updates about all that is to come here on

Hell Breaks Loose by Derek Landy.

Hell Breaks Loose by Derek Landy. 

A Book Review by Kate O’Brien. 

*I would like to say thank you to HarperCollins Ireland for sending me a copy of this book on Publication Day, however I would also like to state that the following review is not a paid review, it is not an ad, it is not sponsored in any way. All opinions are my own. Thank you.* 

As always, my reviews do contain spoilers as I discuss the novel in full detail. Readers, you’ve been warned!

I am a fan of Landy’s writing & the Skulduggery Pleasant series so I was excited & intrigued to find out what a prequel would entail. I enjoyed this book a lot, however it is definitely not my new favourite. 

Hell Breaks Loose invites readers to step back in time as the novel is set in Italy in the 1700s. 

The idea of this book being a prequel strikes me as interesting because while reading it, I debated on whether or not I’d use this term. 

In so many ways, yes, it is a prequel because Landy fills the pages with characters we already know & love, but sets the novel in a time before they became the characters we know & love. Allowing readers to experience characters before they’ve developed is really interesting & clever because reading about them feels new & exciting, but the sense of familiarity we already have draws us in & makes us eager to turn the page. 

In other ways, I would argue that the novel read as more of a standalone, time travel adventure quest rather than a prequel & there were certain things that I do wish would have been explored in more detail. 

I enjoyed this novel a lot.  It was fun & once again I enjoyed Landy’s writing style. 

He is witty & he has a talent for writing sharp, quick, & fun dialogue. The personality of each character really shines through the pages. Landy is also an incredibly vivid writer. I really enjoyed the battle scenes & his descriptions of war are very stark & quite immersive. 

When it comes to YA literature, it is extremely important that readers feel like they can enter into the world of the characters, this way readers feel even more connected to, & invested in the story. 

Landy’s lively, detailed descriptions invite readers to embrace pure escapism & step into the world of Skulduggery Pleasant. 

I thought the decision to write the novel from Ghastly’s point-of-view was a really interesting & smart choice from Landy. Ghastly is a great character and this is a perspective that hasn’t been explored too much in the past so when I opened the book to see Ghastly’s point-of-view, I was pleasantly surprised & intrigued. 

The tone shifts when Valkyrie Cain enters the story. Personally I think that Valkyrie’s impact changed the pacing & I will be honest & say that — SPOILERS AHEAD — time travel narratives are not my favourite. I find that time travel narratives, particularly when they are used in prequels can be slightly underwhelming because the story arcs are already set in the original stories, so the impacts of time travel etc. don’t effect the plot that readers already know & this makes the stakes of the narrative at hand slightly underwhelming. 

I think that keeping with the tone from the first page would have been extremely interesting. Focusing more on the Dead Men & how they operated in the 1700’s setting would have been amazing & incredibly interesting. I would have liked to see that dynamic play out for the entirety of the book & Valkyrie’s time travel adventures could have been a fun, exciting short story. 

However overall, this novel was a fun read. It was a relatively easy read. 

If you are a fan of Derek Landy & the Skulduggery Pleasant series then you’ll most likely fly through this book in a day or two. 

Derek Landy’s Hell Breaks Loose was a fun, immersive read that entailed lots of twists & turns. The book featured characters we know & love & brought them to life in a new way in a new setting. Personally I felt that at times it read like two different stories going on at once, & I am still unsure if I would concretely class it as a prequel, however that is a personal opinion & other readers may love the time travel aspects of the plot. That’s the joy of reading. We can all read the same book, but experience it in different ways. I’m still a Derek Landy fan, I always will be & while Hell Breaks Loose is not my new absolute favourite book in the series, I would still recommend it. 

I hope there’s more of this world to come & I would love, love, love to get an entirely immersive book that is entirely focused on the Dead Men. 

Are you a fan of Derek Landy & Skulduggery Pleasant? 

Happy Reading. 

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Dublin Nights by Candlelight.

St. Andrews Parish Church illuminated by candlelight.

*Please note that this is not a paid review. This piece is not an ad. This piece is not sponsored in any way. I simply wanted to share an amazing experience. All opinions & thoughts shared below are my own. All photos shared have been taken my myself, with my own phone, they may not be shared without my written permission. Thank you.* 

I’ve said many times that I don’t talk about music often enough here on

I talk about musicals a lot, but I feel like I don’t express my love for classical music enough.

I studied music for years & I really enjoy listening to classical music. I am particularly fond of the strings. 

I listen to classical music fairly often. I like to have it playing quietly in the background while I’m writing or while I’m getting ready, or organising things etc. For any students who may be reading, here is a top study tip. Listening to classical music is actually extremely beneficial when you’re studying. It is less distracting because there’s no words & research has proven that classical music helps you relax & it also helps your memory. So if you’re studying, try throwing on some strings next time. This tip is extra helpful if you’re studying music. You’ll be amazed how quickly you’ll start to understand the music pieces that you’re studying if you listen to them often enough. You’ll start to hear the things that the theory talks about. 

Last Friday night I was so thrilled because I was finally going to a candlelight concert. 

I had seen these events so often on social media, I had heard they were fantastic, I have been wanting to go to one for the longest time & so when I finally bought tickets I was so excited. 

The concert took place in St. Andrews Parish Church in Dublin & I have to take a moment to say that if you ever get the opportunity to listen to a concert in a church, don’t miss it. Reverberation tends to be longer in churches because many churches have stone walls & this means that a powerful, beautifully rich sound is able to travel around the space. It was a gorgeous venue & I cannot express how stunning the place looked fully illuminated by candlelight. 

I love the pictures that I took & I believe that I got some lovely shots, but no picture can do this justice. 

The thing that makes these concerts so special (aside from the amazing music) is the decor. There are candles everywhere. I cannot imagine how long it must have taken to get the venue set up so I want to take a moment to say bravo & thank you to everyone who worked behind-the-scenes to make the place so beautiful.

The atmosphere was rich, beautiful, & romantic & the experience felt luxurious even though the tickets are extremely reasonably priced. €26 to see a string quartet in a beautiful, candlelit venue? That is a steal! 

I think it is amazing when events like this are more affordable & I believe the starting price for these concerts is €19. So if you want an excellent night out in Dublin be sure to check out one of these concerts. 

There are themed nights so if there is a specific artist that you’re a fan of, you might just find your dream theme if you take a look. We decided to go on Friday because it was a tribute to The Beatles & we thought that a night of The Beatles music played by a quartet would be fantastic. We were right. Every song was fantastic & it was so much fun to hear songs we knew & loved so well being played on classical instruments. 

I have to take a moment to appreciate the amazing musicians. Bravo to the Avoca String Quartet. This group is Ireland’s Premiere String Quartet. I have so much respect & admiration for musicians. The work they put in, the talent that they have, the passion for music that shines through when they play is so impressive & it is so lovely to see. If you get the chance to hear the Avoca String Quartet play, you have to hear them You’ll have an incredible time. 

I’m so happy that I finally went to see my first Candlelight Concert & it definitely will not be the last. 

A ball was had. It was a dreamy night filled with wonderful music. I’ve also decided that while the entire concert was wonderful, my favourite song was Across the Universe. I’d highly recommend listing to this song on the strings. 

Follow me on Instagram @katelovesliterature if you don’t already. You’ll see some of my literary inspired adventures & you’ll get updates about what is to come on 

I’m also sharing the social links of the Avoca String Quartet & the Candlelight Concert below. 

Be sure to check them out! 

Travel Diary: Lovely London 2023.

London is one of my absolute favourite cities. I always have a ball there. 

It is without a doubt an incredibly #literarycity as London is home to so many incredible writers. They may not all have been born in London, but there are some really fantastic spots that visitors can enjoy. We had the most fantastic four days that were filled to the brim with amazing activities. If you’re planning your own trip and need some inspiration, I hope that my itinerary gives you some ideas. If you’re reading for fun then I hope you enjoy! 

We landed in London on a cloudy Wednesday afternoon. 

First on the agenda was a trip down the rabbit hole. We had a magical Mad Hatter’s tea party in The Sanderson Hotel. The plates, cups, and fantastic food were all inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. We had sandwiches and mini burgers, we had scones with fresh cream. We had tiny, sparkly potions that read “Drink Me,” and darling cupcakes that read “Eat Me.” The sugar cubes came in a music box and the champagne sparkled in the glass. It was a delicious, and absolutely gorgeous way to spend an evening. If you’re a fan of Alice in Wonderland then you will be just as excited as I was.

I was giddy over the John Tenniel illustrations on the cups and plates. 

This wonderful treat was on the pricer side. It was definitely a splurge for a special occasion, and if you’re a big literary lover then I would recommend it as I do think the attention to details alone are worth it. I also want to take a moment to say that the staff at The Sanderson were absolutely fantastic and so attentive, especially as my table had allergy questions and concerns. They answered all of our questions and ensured that we had an amazing tea that was safe for everyone to eat. So I can’t say enough good things about my experience, but be warned, a trip to Wonderland is on the more expensive side. 

*I can provide a full breakdown of costs if people would be interested, although it should be noted that this was a celebratory trip so we splurged more than we normally would.* 

Thursday was an amazing day from start to finish. We had breakfast around the corner from our hotel – don’t worry, I will talk about our accommodation in another point. Knowing that we had a #theatretrip to look forward to that evening, we set out to enjoy our morning in the Tate Modern. It was an excellent way to spend a few hours. We happily wandered around the museum, we really enjoyed all of the different exhibits. We did not pay to see anything, we would have loved to see Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Rooms, however they were fully booked for the foreseeable future. We hadn’t planned out each day in advance so we didn’t know that we would be going to the Tate Modern until that morning. It is amazing that a museum like this offers free entry and free access to certain exhibits so you can have a brilliant day without having to spend money if you’re trying to save. 

*Important Note – London is an expensive city so I was saving in preparation for this trip as I know before even getting there that it is an expensive place to visit so saving while there can be a challenge but not every single thing has to be a splurge.* 

On Thursday evening, we were off to Her Majesty’s Theatre to see Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera. It was an amazing night at the theatre. The show was incredible. You can read all about it by clicking the link to my #theatretrip discussion. 

Before we went to the theatre, we had a gorgeous dinner at Dirty Bones Soho. 

The food was delicious. The cocktails we had were two for the price of one, so fantastic value and very tasty. The staff were so friendly and fun. We had a great time and I would go back there for dinner in a heartbeat the next time I’m in London.

Dish tip – The spicy chicken salad and the high baller cocktail were delicious. I know a salad may not sound like much bit it was so big, so tasty, and so filling. I also ordered a side of fries. It was a perfect meal. 

Friday was a really fun day. We had no plans, nothing booked, no agenda. We decided to be spontaneous and so we set off with a coffee in our hands and we headed back to Soho. We spent the morning at Tattoo 13 in Soho. Every single person who worked there was amazing. Really talented, really welcoming, really fun. I got another ear piercing. Nothing too exciting, I just got another lobe piercing (I do have four now though so I pretend I’m cool). That was six weeks ago now and the piercing has healed perfectly.

I can not recommend this place enough if you’re in London and you want to get a tattoo or a piercing. I wouldn’t normally do something like this when I’m away, but we read brilliant reviews, had word of mouth recommendations from people we know, and when we got there the staff really were so lovely that we just got great vibes and we felt confident about being there. So if you live in London or you’re visiting and this is something that you’d do, Tattoo 13 is an amazing spot. It is fun to do something spontaneous now and then. I had no piercing plans when I left Dublin, but I’m so happy that we spent the morning in Soho. They do accept walk-ins too so if you get there early like we did, you might be lucky enough to get a slot. Hurry though, the place got busy fast and it is clear to see why it is so popular. This is one of my all-time favourite memories from this trip. 

After spending the morning at Tattoo 13, we headed to Burgers & Beyond in Soho. 

The food was amazing. We were starving when we arrived and going to this restaurant was one of my favourite food places of this trip. It just hit the spot. If you’re in Soho, this is a great spot. Dish tip – I got a classic cheese burger with bacon and a side of dirty tots (fried potatoes with bacon, sour cream, cheese, chives, and spicy sauce). It was delicious. I still think about that meal. 

After eating we decided to have a wander around a few different book shops – obviously. I do love literature after all. After some browsing, we decided to be the ultimate tourists and even though it was a chilly day, we walked through Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square, Chinatown, and we ended up standing outside Big Ben so that we could see Big Ben and the London Eye because when in London, you simply have to see the big clock. I don’t make the rules. It was a really fun day and I love that we had no plans so we could do whatever we wanted and we just decided where to go next as the day went on. I understand that when your time is limited in a city that having free days like this may not be an option. It was not an option for me the last time I was there in May. We had a busy itinerary and there were places that we didn’t get to see that I made sure we got to this time, for example the Dickens Museum which I am talking about more in my next point. 

So while having a day set aside for spontaneous exploring may not be an option, if you’re lucky enough to be returning to a place you’ve been to before like we were and you do have some decent knowledge of how to get around then I would say having some time set aside where you have no plans so you can just do whatever you want could be lots and lots of fun.  

On Friday night we decided to have a wander down Fleet Street. Those of you who have been subscribed to for a while now may remember that one of the highlights of my last trip to London was getting to visit the building that was allegedly once the barber shop of Sweeney Todd, the demon barber of Fleet Street. 

You can read all about my last trip to London by clicking this link. 

My last trip was back in May 2022 and it was completely different to the trip I just returned from. We visited completely different spots and stayed in an entirely different area so if you’re planning a trip to London and want some inspiration then I do recommend reading my previous travel diary because if this current itinerary doesn’t suit you, my previous one may suit you better. Check it out! 

I do love Fleet Street so it was great fun exploring it again. There are some fantastic pubs – Dickens allegedly drank in one. There’s some amazing churches, St. Dunstan’s and St. Bride’s. The architecture is amazing and there’s a really cool exhibition in the crypts of St. Bride’s. Overall, Fleet Street is just a really cool street to explore and it is so close to St. Paul’s and Covent Gardens is only twenty minutes away (roughly) so it is a really fun area to visit. We were adventurous and decided to walk down the Hen and Chicken court alley in the dark to see the Sweeney Todd Barber shop one more time. This is one of the narrowest alley-ways in London, but while we did have fun and even though we certainly were not the only ones there to take a picture of the alleged spooky spot, I would never recommend walking down an alley in the dark. This is definitely a do as I say and not as I do moment as it is extremely important to be safe and cautious when one is travelling. 

We finished the night in Fleets cocktail bar. This is one of my favourite cocktail spots in London. The cosmopolitans are delicious and the pink floral decor is so pretty. It is a gorgeous spot for pictures and the atmosphere is really fun. Perfect for a date or for a group of friends. 

Saturday was our last day but our flight wasn’t until the evening so we were able to have an amazing morning. We started out the day with a full English breakfast and then we set off to the Charles Dickens Museum. 

For those of you who may not know, I am a huge fan of Charles Dickens. The first thesis I ever wrote was an analysis on the idea of home and homelessness in the fiction and journalism of Charles Dickens. I absolutely love his work. I studied A Christmas Carol in drama class every December for a decade. I could not wait to explore the Dickens Museum. An unexpected bonus was that during our visit there was a particular exhibition taking place – To Be Read at Dusk: Dickens, Ghosts and the Supernatural.

Charles Dickens wrote and performed ghost stories for over thirty years and he expressed himself and explored the supernatural in his imagination. This particular exhibition explored Dickens’ interest in, love of, and scepticism of ghost stories, as well as celebrating some of his most popular ghostly works. 

I absolutely love ghost stories and gothic literature, in fact, I have some exciting news about this particular topic coming soon, but for now I’ll just say that as someone who is a fan of Dickens in general, and as someone who loves ghost stories especially, this exhibition was a real treat. 

Before heading to the airport we decided to take a stroll through Hyde Park and so the last thing we did on this brilliant trip was visit the Peter Pan statue as Kensington Gardens  is right beside Hyde Park. The bronze statue has quite a memorable backstory. It was erected in the middle of the night in 1912 so one day there was an empty space, and the next there was the boy who won’t grow up. I’m someone who always strives to encourage wonder and curiosity so mysterious statues that “magically” appear are right up my alley. 

After making a wish at the Peter Pan statue, it was time to go back to the hotel to quickly grab our bags so that we could make our way back to the airport. 

When I was in London last May, we stayed in the Premier Inn in Blackfriars. It was a brilliant location and we got a great price. This time we stayed in the Park Grand Paddington Court Hotel which is located near Paddington station and Hyde Park. 

Full disclosure, we opted to stay here this time because the price was simply better.

Again – London is expensive. The hotel was lovely. It was clean, the staff were kind, the location was great. There are plenty of coffee shops and bars around, the Swan being one that we had a great time in on Wednesday night, and I think that if I got the same great deal then I would stay in this spot again. I will be honest and say that I did prefer staying in Blackfriars in May, simply because I found it to be even more central, but to be fair getting from place to place was extremely easy. We got the tube and/or walked everywhere and it is so easy now to use public transportation such as the tube because you just tap your Revolut card (if you have one) when getting on and off. 

It was an amazing trip and I loved every second. It seems like an age ago now. 

I had intended to publish this travel diary the week after I got home, but if you’ve been following along here and/or on my Instagram @katelovesliterature then you will already know that I had to be #outofoffice for much longer than I intended to be because the week after I got home, I got very sick. I had strep throat, conjunctivitis, nausea, and then another sinus infection so I was sick in bed, taking antibiotics for three weeks straight. I was unable to type or edit anything. Thankfully it was not covid, and thankfully I am finally much better and now I am able to be back to work, back to college, and back to publishing pieces here on I try not to talk about my personal life too much, and usually I wouldn’t share that I was unwell because it is unrelated to literature, however I was absent for a long time, and so many people were kind enough to send me well wishes and ask about how I was feeling so I did want to take a moment to say thank you so much for that. Those of you who reached out, you know who you are. It was so kind and I really do appreciate it. 

Things are going to get busy again here on I have some pieces that have been on hold while I was unwell that I am excited to finally be able to publish.

I also have some brand new reviews coming very soon. 

I am #currentlyreading Hell Breaks Loose by Derek Landy. This book is the prequel to the Skulduggery Pleasant series. This book takes readers back to 300 years before Valkyrie Cain was born. I am really enjoying this new adventure so stay tuned because when I am finished reading, my review will soon follow. HarperCollins Ireland were so kind to send me a copy of this book on Publication Day, however the review I will write is not a paid review. 

There is some other exciting news that I am looking forward to sharing soon, but for now all I can say is that there is some really fun work going on behind-the-scenes at the moment. 

I am also in the home stretch of my master’s degree programme. All of my lectures are behind me, my proposal has been submitted and now all I have to conquer is the actual, official dissertation. There is still an academic mountain to climb, but it is always encouraging when you can see the top. When I am finished my course entirely, I will finally share what I have been studying and striving towards for the past two years. 

I hope that you like the pictures that I am sharing below. There some more snaps on my Instagram grid so if you don’t follow me already then head on over to @katelovesliterature for my photos and regular updates about what is happening here on 

*All photos shared here have been taken by myself with my own phone and they may not be shared or used without my permission. Thank you. *

I hope you enjoyed my Lovely London Travel Diary. 

The Phantom of the Opera.

It is finally time for a #theatretrip. 

In London I went to see Andrew Llyod Webber’s Phantom of the Opera in Her Majesty’s Theatre. It was my second time seeing this musical on stage. The first time I saw the musical was in London in 2018. The show was supposed to come to the Bord Gáis Energy theatre in 2020 (if I am remembering correctly) and I had bought tickets but unfortunately the show was cancelled and it has not made its way back to Ireland yet, so I was really excited to have the opportunity to see it again. 

So let’s dive right in. Firstly I want to say that Her Majesty’s Theatre is a beautiful theatre. It is ornate and the decor is rich and red. The stage itself is beautiful and the theatre, despite being big, still feels intimate when you’re seated. 

If you have not read or seen Phantom of the Opera, the story centres around Christine Daaé, who is a naive singer. She starts off as a dancer in the chorus but upon receiving lessons and orders from the mysterious and increasingly threatening opera ghost, she becomes the show’s lead actress. She believes she is receiving lessons from the angel of music, a teacher who was sent to her by her late father. The truth of the matter is that this mysterious teacher is a man who lives beneath the opera house, he is hiding because he is disfigured and the world has been cruel to him. He is a tortured soul, he is a deeply sad figure, he is a genius when it comes to writing music, and he is obsessed with Christine. He loves her, he wants her to be his star, and his bride. 

The show was amazing. I loved every second. The entire cast was incredibly talented, and it is a treat to hear operatic singing as it is not a style of singing that I hear very often – I should rectify that and go to more operas, but I digress. The score of this show is a treat. My favourite song will always be All I Ask of You because I think it is just the most beautiful melody. It is full and romantic and so full of hope and light. It always makes me cry. I think it is a stunning scene, it is so full of love. Christine and Raoul are on the rooftop, her cloak is flowing with her every move, he is guiding her and leading her, sweeping her around the stage in his strong arms. The pair are truly in love and this song just perfectly illustrates how they feel. 

The show is full of stunning performances. The set is rich, the costumes are dazzling. 

One of my favourite scenes is the opening of Act Two, the masquerade ball is just amazing. It is visually one of the most amazing performances in any show. The costumes are so different, detailed, and eye-catching. The song is catchy too. It is just a stunning way to open an act. 

The show is fairly heavy in tone so this ball is actually a nice break from the dark mood … that is until an uninvited guest makes a dark appearance. 

I cannot recommend this show enough. If you get the chance to see it, then do not miss it. 

It was definitely one of the highlights of my trip to London. 

It was an amazing trip, and now that I am finally feeling better I can finally start writing again. 

Stay tuned as there is lots to come on 

Out of Office.

A update…

By Kate O’Brien. 

I am currently still #outofoffice as I am very sick at moment with a very bad throat infection. I am on my third set of antibiotics. 

I have been unable to write and edit pieces over the past two weeks. I have been posting updates on my Instagram @katelovesliterature – so if you follow me there then you will have already seen why I have not published any new pieces. 

I did not plan on being out of office for so long, but I will not publish pieces that I feel were not written to best of my abilities. 

I am taking the time to rest and mind myself, I am also coming up to the end of my master’s programme so when I have had little bursts of energy, I had to put essays first. 

I have a backlog of pieces that I hope to complete and publish soon. 

I have an entire #traveldiary all about London that I am excited to share. 

It was the best trip and we did lots of literary inspired things so I can’t wait to share our adventures alongside some travel snaps. 

I have a #theatretrip piece coming up as when we were in London, we went to see the iconic Phantom of the Opera in Her Majesty’s Theatre. 

I had planned to publish a St.Patrick’s Day inspired piece all about my favourite Irish writers but unfortunately that piece has been delayed as well. 

I am currently watching Breaking Bad for the very first time (yes, I know I am extremely late to this show,) so there will be a #watchtvwithme piece coming up when I have finished the entire show. 

I apologise for the lack of updates here on – thank you to everyone who has sent me a lovely message wishing me well. I appreciate it. 

I really hope to be feeling better and back at it very soon, and as I’ve said I have a backlog of pieces that I am excited to share so once I am finally feeling better, there is lots to come here on

Kate xo. 

The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde.

The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde. 

A Short Story discussion by Kate O’Brien. 

Oscar Wilde’s The Canterville Ghost was his first story to be published in two parts. 

The story was published in 1887. This short story is set in the 19th century. 

This story is extremely popular and it has been adapted many times. 

The plot follows the Otis family as they move into Canterville Chase, an old English country house. They’ve been warned that the house is haunted, but the Otis family do not believe in ghosts … that is, they don’t believe in ghosts until denying a ghostly presence is impossible. 

I really enjoy short stories because they are snippets in time, snapshots of characters, and even though sometimes I wish this story was longer, I actually think it is almost a perfect short story. (That is, if a story can ever really be perfect, because that of course is a matter of opinion.)

This story is mysterious, it is intriguing, it is at times very witty, and there are enough different characters to keep readers hooked, without being too many for a short story. I find sometimes that if a short story is too packed with lots of different characters, it can be hard to follow and it can also feel like some people just get lost at times. There could be a really intriguing character introduced but then because it is a short story and there is not as much narrative time, that character just sort of fades away and that is always a shame – unless it is a mystery and that is the intention, but I hope what I’m getting at is clear. 

Ambiguous endings sometimes face the same issue. I need an ambiguous ending to feel intentional, I need it to feel like and read like the ambiguous ending was being built up all along,  otherwise I feel cheated because it seems like the author was just not sure how to end their tale, so therefore it is ambiguous by default which just feels unfinished. (In my opinion.)

I’m a fan of Wilde’s writing style in general, but I especially enjoy The Canterville Ghost. 

I believe this work is a piece of satirical writing, as Wilde uses gothic tropes in quite an exaggerated way. Satire or not, I’m a fan of the eerie, foreboding atmosphere that Wilde creates, and as I’ve said many times, I always love when a story is set in a creepy, old, towering house on the hill. 

In a way I think that The Canterville Ghost could be called the ultimate ghost story. 

The setting is perfectly ominous. The central characters don’t believe in ghosts and this fact makes the story’s ghost Sir Simon de Canterville extremely determined to scare the family away.

I think that this short story is incredibly layered. Three hundred years before the Otis family moved into the house, Simon de Canterville killed his wife, Lady Eleanor. Why?

He killed her because she was “too simple, too plain, and didn’t prepare his clothing properly.” 

After Lady Eleanor was murdered, her brothers decided to avenge her by murdering Simon de Canterville in an act of revenge. They locked him in a room with food and water just beyond his reach and left him to slowly starve to death. This is quite a grim prospect so you can see what I mean when I say that this short story is very dark. The fact that a character could murder his wife so casually is extremely dark too. 

Simon de Canterville takes great pleasure in being a ghost. Nothing delights him more than scaring the people who enter the house. He is able to take on various forms and he has no problem scaring people until the Otis family arrives. I would call him a sadistic figure as he seems to relish in causing fear and pain. 

The Otis family are unmoved by the bloodstains he leaves on the floor, they simply wipe them away. They do not flinch when they hear his rattling chains, they simply tell him that the noise is too loud. Virginia Otis, the daughter of the family, even scolds Simon de Canterville for trying to scare them so much and she scolds him for killing his wife. 

Simon de Canterville confesses to murdering his wife, and he tells Virginia that he has not been able to truly die for three hundred years. He has not been able to quench his thirst or satisfy his hunger. He simply wishes to die. Virginia feels pity for him. I do wonder how this would be handled if the story was adapted again in 2023 – it is very hard to sympathise with a figure who so nonchalantly murdered his wife. Simon de Canterville also scared some people so horrifically that they committed suicide. So while I do believe his confession to Vriginia is meant to be one that evokes sympathy, in all of my readings of this tale, I’ve never been able to view him as any kind of victim. Virginia however, does feel pity for him. She is told of a prophecy, Simon de Canterville can truly die if a girl cries for him and prays for him. She agrees to help him and during this time, she goes missing. She returns safely and goes on to happily marry after leading the rest of her family to the skeleton of the Canterville ghost. She informs everyone that he is truly dead now and the house is haunted no longer. She lives a happy life – but she never reveals what happened when she went missing. I suppose we are left to use our own imaginations about this.  

This story makes me think about many things. Wilde does include wit and humour in this story, highlighting how perhaps we make light of things in order to get through them. Dark humour and black comedy also tends to take very dark situations and make them somewhat funny- even though they are often topics that we can’t imagine laughing at. I also think the fact that Simon de Canterville became a ghostly figure that people were warned about is very interesting. I’d argue that he could almost be called an urban legend. Again, I think there is something deeply human here. Audiences tend to be drawn in by violent stories, and this is because they seem too violent to be true. Why is true crime popular? Because people cannot believe that acts like that actually happened. People are fascinated by true crime, people get enamoured with all the details, people want to know what happened and how? Hearing about crime, be it true or fictional, and even being taken in by a ghost story is a way of experiencing something frightening in a safe way. 

You can’t physically get hurt if you’re listening to a story, but you can get scared and spooked, and some people love a thrill. 

I think the fact that this story was published in 1887 and it still highlights how tragic or violent situations can be turned into a story is really interesting and perhaps this shows that in some ways, human nature will stay the same. Simon de Canterville killed his wife, but over time this tragic and violent act became nothing but a ghost story – and I think is a really interesting point of discussion. This story may be fiction but there are parallels of this happening in reality, for example, there is a Jack the Ripper tour in London. 

Overall I think it is a great read. Wilde’s language is imaginary and evocative. He weaves humour and satire into a mysterious and dark tale. If you want a good short story then pick up The Canterville Ghost. 

Be sure to follow me on Instagram @katelovesliterature if you don’t already as that is where I publish all updates about – schedule changes, upcoming pieces, mini-recommendations etc. There is lots to see and read so follow along. 

 I will be #outofoffice next week because I am going on a little adventure so there will not be a piece published on 01/03/23 – however I do have an exciting week planned and I will be active on Instagram so follow along to see a sneak peak of what is coming up very soon.