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.

My Heart & Other Breakables.

My Heart & Other Breakables by Alex Barclay. 

A book review & discussion by Kate O’Brien. 

Before Christmas I found out that I was being added to the HarperCollins Ireland mailing list in 2023. I was so happy about this as it is really fantastic to receive some #bookmail. 

I love the element of surprise as I don’t know what book I will be getting until it arrives in the post, and similar to what I said about the #blinddatewithabook packages, I like getting books that I may not have chosen for myself. 

Alex Barclay’s My Heart & Other Breakables was the first book I received in the post from HarperCollins Ireland, and I want to say thank you to the HarperCollins Ireland team as it is a pleasure to be on the mailing list. I look forward to reading and reviewing books throughout 2023.

I also want to make it clear that this review is not an ad, not a paid promotion. 

This review is not sponsored in any way. I have not been paid to write this review & all thoughts & opinions shared in this piece are entirely my own. 

With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s dive into my first book review and discussion of 2023. 

Alex Barclay has expertly mixed humour with heartache in  My Heart & Other Breakables. 

The book is an epistolary novel that allows readers to peer into Ellen Brown’s diary. 

Ellen Brown is the sixteen year old protagonist who has just lost her mother, but even though she is processing that loss, her thoughts seem to constantly revolve around her father. She wants to know who her father is, and in true Mamma Mia fashion, Ellen, with the help of her best friend, has narrowed it down to three options. 

It would be far too easy if these three men lived in the same place, a journey like this would be no fun without hijinks. Ellen is absolutely determined to get away from her grandmother and find out who her father really is. As you might have guessed, hijinks do ensue. 

The story is set in Ireland, and I am biassed of course, but it is always great to see Irish dialogue and local phrases being used. The novel feels very immersive anyways because of the diary-entry format, but seeing phrases that I use myself makes it feel even closer to home, and even more relatable. It was very funny seeing Ellen attempt to explain Irish-isms, and I imagine if you’re not from Ireland then perhaps her explanations won’t make the most sense, however I imagine this happens with any book when it is set somewhere – If you’re from New York and you’re reading Breakfast at Tiffany’s then you’ll know the locations, if you read Dickens and you’re from London, you’ll know the locations. The same thing is happening  here, if you’re from Ireland then you’ll really understand some of the sayings.

This is a great story. I would say that it absolutely fits into the wonderful world of YA novels where sometimes the far-fetched and the unbelievable happens and that is perfectly okay. 

You can’t think about little details too much otherwise they will hinder your enjoyment of the book. Can you “accidentally” stay in a £500 a night hotel in real life when you’re sixteen? Of course not, it’s far fetched, but if you allow the elements of make believe to happen without question, if you allow yourself to go with the flow and have fun with it, then this book is a really lovely, easy read that will brings lots of laughs and maybe even a few tears, without being too heavy in tone overall. 

I would call it a teenage coming of age story because sixteen is that age in the in-between. 

You’re not a pre-teen anymore, and you’re not barely a teenager who has just left the age of twelve behind. Sixteen is right there in the middle, you’re inching closer to eighteen, and in Ireland that is the age you can drink alcohol, it is the age you can vote, it is the age that you do the Leaving Cert and leave school, at eighteen you are a legal adult, and when you’re sixteen you’re nearly there, you’re nearly an adult but you’re not there yet. I cannot imagine losing a parent this young. I cannot imagine having to grieve such a significant loss this young, and the fact that Ellen Brown is trying to process her grief and in doing so, she wants to find the only direct parental figure she has left is why I would call this a coming of age novel. Ellen has her grandmother and her aunt, and while things may not always be perfect, they are loving, but Ellen wants to find her father and I can understand this. In grief, we cling onto things, we want something to make us feel anchored and secure. So much of who we are as people can often, not always, but often can be linked to our parents. Ellen Brown lost her mother at the age of sixteen. She has to try to process this loss and live the rest of her life without her mother, she is figuring out how she will do so, she is wondering will she be able to do so? So in my opinion, her wanting to find and meet her father is also a way for her to find herself. She has to navigate her life in a completely new way now, and I don’t think this is something that many of us plan to do at sixteen. No one wants to do this, but now Ellen has to, and I really enjoyed the way the book followed a circular structure. One year of diary entries, we start at one end of the year, and we finish in the same place an entire year later, and as one might imagine, a lot can happen in a year. 

One thing is for sure, Ellen comes of age. 

One of my favourite things about this story is the relationship between Ellen and her best friend Meg. Meg is a bookworm, Meg is kind, Meg is an extremely supportive best friend and she does her best to help Ellen on her adventures. I love seeing strong friendships in books, especially because our friends can be the people who lift us up when we are down. The support of a true friend can mean the world to us, and I enjoyed seeing that dynamic portrayed so nicely in My Heart & Other Breakables

Ultimately I would say that this was a really fun and very heartfelt read. I was surprised by how heartwarming and poignant the book managed to be without venturing into melodramatic territory. I find that sometimes in YA narratives, grief, especially a young person’s grief can be a hard topic to write about. Some books do not give young adults enough credit and assume they do not grieve as an adult would because they are young, so this means they don’t fully grasp what has happened. Others delve into melodramatic territory and lack nuance since the protagonist is young, so the grieving process can become one that is full of sobbing and nothing else. Grief is a complex thing no matter what age one is. It is filled with ups and downs, good days, and bad days, tears and laughter, and I think that Alex Barclay captured the right balance in her book. 
 This book is fun, it is heartfelt, and even though there is a lot going on, it is accessible due to the diary entry style. I would recommend My Heart & Other Breakables for readers aged (11-14.)

What better book to review on February first?

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

Have you read any books that you felt really explored the topic of grief in a brilliant, nuanced, touching way?

If so, please let me know. I love hearing your recommendations.

Merry Christmas Everyone.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

Festive wishes & a Christmas book review by Kate O’Brien. 

Christmas is my favourite holiday. It is a time that I associate with family, friends, and lots of love. I really enjoy being festive. I enjoy buying and wrapping gifts, I love Christmas lights. I love when my home is filled with Christmas decorations. I love candy canes, I will have hot chocolate even though it is not my favourite…I do however, love a Baileys hot chocolate. 

Tis the season after all. 

I can’t believe that it is this time of year again. I feel like the year has flown by. 

It has been a busy year, but I am very thankful that I can say that it has been a great year. 

This will be my last review/discussion of 2022. I will be discussing two books. 

After I publish this piece I will be taking a break for Christmas. I love It is my passion project, but I work on my laptop, I’m doing my master’s which consists of lots and lots of research and essay writing, and I am always writing reviews so even though I love what I do, and I consider myself very lucky, I’m constantly typing so I think it is important to take time away from the laptop screen every once in a while. I will be writing and publishing reviews and discussions again in the New Year. 

Thank You. 

Before I jump into my final review of 2022, I want to take a moment to say thank you so much to all of my readers. You know who you are. Thank you so much to everyone who has subscribed to I really appreciate it, and I hope that you all have been enjoying my reviews and discussions so far. I hope that you continue to enjoy them as we move into 2023. There is so much more to come. Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates. I hope that you all have a happy and healthy New Year. Here’s to 2023. 

I want to say a special thank you to the Children’s Books Ireland team and to the Beehive Books team. I’m honoured to be a member of the Children’s Books Ireland reviewer team. I’m such an advocate when it comes to encouraging young people to read. I really believe that the books we read when we are young can open up so many doors. Everything that I do now can be credited to  the fact that I was an avid bookworm when I was young, and I am so glad that the adults in my life encouraged my love of reading and ensured that I always had books. This is why I am such a fan of the Children’s Books Ireland ethos, which is that every child has the right to be a reader, and every child should have access to good quality reading materials. Every school should have a library. I have huge admiration for everyone at Children’s Books Ireland, and for all of the work that they do, and so I am delighted that I can say that I am involved in some way. #everychildareader. 

I’ve also been so lucky this year as I have gotten to know some members of the Beehive Books team. I’ve had the opportunity to attend some book launches and to review some of their books. Everyone whom I have met has been so kind, so lovely, and so welcoming, which is something that I really appreciate. I have a keen interest in the publishing industry, and when you meet people who are doing what you are striving towards, and they are so encouraging, it is really lovely. Thank you to everyone at Beehive Books. 

I’m adding social links below. Be sure to check them out!




A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

(The first of two book discussions.)

The Christmas season never passes me by without reading A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. It is a classic that is synonymous with Christmas in my opinion. I think it is such a significant read. Everyone should have to read this book at least once, and I do believe that it should be taught in English classes at this time of year. It is extremely hard for me to choose a definite favourite Dickens’ text. He is my favourite classic author. I loved studying his fiction and his journalism. Writing about his works was challenging, but it was a challenge that I really enjoyed. I would highly recommend reading A Christmas Carol first if you have never read any of his other works before, as although it is a dense text, I think it is a straightforward story to get into. The book also does a great job of introducing readers to the writing style of Charles Dickens. He is a very descriptive, evocative writer, and some of the scenes in A Christmas Carol are incredibly vivid because they are filled with such detail. I would argue that is why this book is so cinematic, and why a story like this lends itself to so many film adaptations. 

I have discussed A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens in much more detail in a previous book discussion. You can read it by clicking the link below. 

I’m also looking forward to watching Christmas Carole starring Surrane Jones. This show will be airing on Sky on Christmas Eve, and based on the trailer, I think it looks quite good.

Surrane Jones is obviously taking on the role of Scrooge. She appears to be an uptight businesswoman who scoffs at Christmas and kindness. Following the classic Dickens plot, she will be visited by three ghosts. Some may call this plot predictable by now, and this is somewhat true because even if you have never read the original text, A Christmas Carol has been adapted so many times that by now almost everyone knows the story and how it plays out. It is a little formulaic, but that is okay. That is the nature of a story like this. It is predictable, it does follow a set structure, but nevertheless it is a heartwarming, and very important tale. I’m excited to see this new take on it, even though I already have clear ideas about how the show will play out. 

I’m a fan of Surrane Jones, and it looks as though this adaptation has a fantastic cast so I am looking forward to sitting down and tuning in this Christmas Eve. I will do a mini #watchtvwithme on the spot review as I’m watching so be sure to follow along on my Instagram stories @katelovesliterature

The Holly Pond Hill Christmas Treasury by Paul Kortepeter. 

(The second of two book discussions.) 

The Holly Pond Hill Christmas Treasury, illustrated by Susan Wheeler and written by Paul Kortepeter is a book that I have had since I was a little girl. I flipped through it again a few days ago, and I was reminded of just how charming this book is. 

This delightful book is a collection of festive recipes, Christmas stories, poems, and songs. It is filled with charming illustrations and it is the perfect read for when one is counting down the days until Christmas. The characters of Holly Pond Hill are getting into the Christmas spirit and readers will too when they flip through the pages of this Christmas treasury. I think it is such a sweet keepsake. I’m so glad that I still have it after all these years. I think that a book like this would make a lovely present for a young reader, because it is something that they can have forever. A book like this can become a Christmas tradition because it is one that can be returned to every year. I think my favourite poem in this book is A Call for Snow! It is short and sweet, and perfect for young readers who want to practise reading independently. 

I’m delighted that I came across this book. It made for a fun trip down memory lane, and I just had to share it here on 

I am looking forward to 2023. I have a feeling it will be a great year. There is so much more to come, and I believe that there is no way to go except onwards and upwards. 

For now, thank you all for reading. I appreciate every like, and every comment. I love what I do, and it is so lovely that people engage with what I write. Until next year…

Merry Christmas. 

Kate xo.

The Holiday Before Christmas: Leipzig.

A travel diary by Kate O’Brien.

Christmas trees, fairy lights, gluhwein, and more. The Christmas markets in Leipzig were a magical sight. Germany has been on my travel wishlist for a long time, and I was so excited to spend a snowy few days in Leipzig. 

I wasn’t expecting to travel again before Christmas, but my Mam surprised me with a trip to Germany. It was cold, it was snowy, it was a trip filled with festive fun. 

I couldn’t wait to go, especially because Leipzig is a city that has a rich literary history, and there is nothing I love more than exploring a #literarycity. 

We flew out on a Sunday and we flew back to Dublin the following Wednesday. 

It is fantastic that Ryanair now has direct flights from Dublin to Leipzig. 

It may have been a short trip, but it was filled with amazing food, lovely drinks, some shopping, and we explored some fantastic sights. I had the best time, and Leipzig is a city that I will most definitely be returning to, but for now, I’m delighted to be able to add Leipzig to the travel diaries. 

If you enjoy reading about literary inspired trips then read on, because I’m going to outline some of the exploring we did, and I’m going to share some of the snaps I took. This city is a photographer’s dream, especially since the entire city was decorated for Christmas. 

It was glittering, sparkling, and all things festive. 

Leipzig is a cultural hub, and I was especially excited about the city’s musical history. 

The city has often been called the city of music, and if you’re a fan of classical music then this city is one you won’t want to miss. 

Please note – All images shared are photographs that I have taken myself, with my own phone. They may not be shared without my permission. 

St. Thomas Church. 

One of the places that I was most excited to visit was St.Thomas Church. (Thomaskirche). 

This church is said to date back to the 12th century, and although it has seen some changes over time, it is hard to imagine that a structure has stood in the same spot for such a long time. 

After some renovations, today the church is a beautiful, gothic building. It is a sight to behold. 

St.Thomas Church is home to one of the oldest, and most renowned boys’ choirs. The St.Thomas Boys’ Choir has sung in these halls since the year 1212, and at one point in time the choir was led by the one and only Johann Sebastian Bach. 

Johann Sebastian Bach has a reputation as one of the best composers of all time. He has been called a genius due to the way he composes counterpoints. A counterpoint refers to when melody lines are woven together, creating the harmony at the same time as the melody. Bach was also a particularly talented organ master, and during the church’s renovations, a new Bach organ was installed. This is the impressive organ that visitors will see when they visit the church today. 

In a little corner room in the church, I found my dream come true. Instruments and sheet music, all saved and displayed in cases. It was amazing to see handwritten scores that have been saved for all these years. I love music, I studied music, and while I don’t discuss it as much as I should, I adore classical music and music theory. 

I love scores. I think that there is something incredible about seeing the work that someone put on paper. Someone sat down and created song, and that is a talent that I wish I had. 

Music is universal and immortal. It seems unbelievable that the music of a choir master from centuries ago is still being played, remembered, and respected today, but Bach has left behind an impressive musical legacy and reputation. 

I was really hoping to see some sheet music and scores, so I was not disappointed. 

Outside the church, a statue of Bach sits overlooking the grounds. I think it is lovely that he is being remembered in St.Thomas Church in Leipzig after all of his musical service there. 

It is said that Bach is buried there too. The Bach museum is directly across the street so all of these must-see sights are very easy to find. 

This is a stop that music lovers won’t want to miss. Lovers of architecture will really enjoy it too, as this building with its high ceilings and stained-glass windows is just stunning. 

I bet that hearing a choir echoing through these walls would be absolutely amazing. 

I also want to note that visitors can also view the tower, but unfortunately I could not do this as this tour does not run past November. Oh well! This gives me yet another reason to return to Leipzig, not that I needed much convincing. 

I’d also like to share one of my favourite Bach quotes. 

The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.” – Johann Sebastian Bach. 

I think that music is something that touches the soul and pulls on one’s heartstrings in a way that not many things can. It is absolutely incredible how a piece of music can resonate with a person so much. That is why I love this quote. 

St. Nicholas Church. 

The second church we visited was St. Nicholas Church (Nikolaikiriche). 

At this church, visitors are not permitted to take photographs.

This church is absolutely stunning, it is a sight you won’t want to miss, however it is a sight that you cannot take photographs of. You can buy a private photo pass in the gift shop for €1, which I did, however these pictures are for private use only. The church states that pictures are not permitted to be shared online or on any social media platforms. I’m sure that people share their pictures anyway, however I’m not going to do so, as I would not like any of my own photos to be shared without my permission. 

This church is a gothic building with baroque elements, and I would say that this building has a delicate, almost romantic feel to it. The interior is pink and white, and a huge silver organ sits overhead, looking down at all the pews. This organ is the largest organ in all of Saxony. 

Several of Bach’s pieces premiered in this church. This church is only a few minutes walk away from St.Thomas Church so it is definitely worth making a stop at both. 

Mephisto Bar. 

Mephisto is an elegant bar that you’ll find if you walk through the famous Mädler-Passage. The arcade was built between 1912-1914, and it is a sight of beauty and grandeur. At this time of year, it is also a sight of Christmas trees. Mephisto is a bar that has a wonderfully eccentric atmosphere. The stylish bar is home to Mephisto, who is a demon figure that can be found in German folktales. I just had to visit here as a lover of fairy tales and folktales. 

The bar is elegant, with a devilish touch. Mirrors change, and at certain times, smoke and lightning flashes as Mephisto himself makes an appearance on the ceiling. 

It is such good fun. Cocktail lovers need to make a stop here, as the menu is absolutely delicious. 

Christmas Markets. 

The highlight of my trip was exploring the Leipzig Christmas markets. These markets are the second-oldest Christmas markets in Saxony as they date back to 1458. The markets are huge, and at every turn you’ll find fairy lights, Christmas trees, decorations, gluhwein, toffee apples, and more. There are treats at every stall. Mugs, cakes, ornaments, jewellery, I could go on and on. 

Exploring the markets while Christmas music played was absolutely magical, and there was a festive joy in the air. I absolutely loved all of the hustle and bustle, even though it was very cold. 

I am so happy that I had the chance to tick Germany off my travel wishlist, although I definitely want to return to Leipzig as I know there is much more to do and see. I really wanted to see the Opera House, but unfortunately the schedule was tight. Next time that will be my first stop. 

I would absolutely return to the Christmas markets in Leipzig although I do think that the city would be lovely to explore in the summer, and I want to explore other places in Germany too, so be it in the cold or in the sun, I will be visiting Leipzig again. 

I really enjoy travelling to places that are filled with rich literature, history, and beauty, and I really enjoy writing about these trips. If you enjoy reading my travel diaries, then be sure to read all about my past trips to Oslo, London, Pompeii, Naples, Florence, and Rome as I did lots and lots of literary things in these literary cities. 

Links below: 

Glorious Goddesses Of Ancient Ireland.

Glorious Goddesses Of Ancient Ireland written by Karen Ward and illustrated by Paula McGloin. 

A literary review by Kate O’Brien. 

Published by Beehive Books, Glorious Goddesses Of Ancient Ireland introduces readers to legendary figures from Irish mythology. This book is filled with fascinating tales. 

This book is a delightful read, and Ward’s stories are brought to life by McGloin’s striking artwork. 

This book introduces readers to nine Goddesses. Danu, Gráinne, The Cailleach, Brigid, Áine, Aisling, Boann, The Morrigan, and Ériu. Each of these mythical Goddesses are unique and powerful in their own way. Each and every one of these figures is a force of nature. 

Danu, The Mother Goddess, is the first of all the Irish deities. Danu is the symbol of nature and fertility. Gráinne, The Maiden Goddess, is a determined girl who knows her own mind. The Cailleach, The Crone Goddess, is a protective and powerful force. The Crone Goddess brings the winter, but she also protects those in her care. Brigid, Goddess Of Spring, is the patron saint of Ireland. Brigid is the bringer of spring. Áine, Sun Goddess Of Love is celebrated at the summer solstice. She is a force that brings the harvest, and her sunlight ensures ripe crops. 

Aisling, Goddess Of Vision, she inspires all who see her. Aisling’s presence is a sign of hope, and it was believed that if she appeared before you, it was to bring an important message. 

Boann is the River Goddess who wouldn’t be refused wisdom, instead her power grew and grew. The Morrigan is the Goddess Of Death and Prophecy. The Morrigan is a seer of death, she predicts the future, and she encourages heroics. Last but not least is Ériu, the Sovereignty Goddess Of Ireland. She symbolises Ireland as a land of abundance. 

This book brings these Goddesses to life, and celebrates a variety of abilities and strengths. 

This book talks about life and death, about nature and the seasons, about love and revenge, and about the different stages of a woman’s life. The book also contains a lovely introduction, one that welcomes readers into the rich history of Ireland. Ancient Ireland was a place filled with magic and I must say that Ward and McGloin captured this sense of wonder on every page. 

Also included in this book is a glossary that younger readers may find helpful if they’re coming across some new words, (Older readers may find this helpful too. We are never too old to learn something new!), and there’s a beautiful map of ancient Ireland too, making this text truly something to treasure. 

Ward flawlessly writes about Ireland’s history as well as capturing the fiery, passionate, intelligent, powerful spirits of these figures and McGloin’s artwork is striking. The colours are rich and vivid, and her illustrations have brought the vastness of these figures to the forefront of every page. The illustrations capture the person, and their strength, as well as incorporating beautiful aspects of Ireland’s nature. I read this book from cover to cover several times over, but I also spent ages just flicking through the pages, looking at all of the pictures. There’s one or two that I would love to have framed on my wall! The stories are fascinating, and the artwork is eye-catching. That’s a brilliant combination if you ask me. 

If you’re a fan of Irish mythology then this book belongs in your collection, and if you’re looking for an introduction to Irish mythology and wonder, look no further! 

I highly recommend picking up a copy of this book, and I think it would make a beautiful present, remember Christmas is right around the corner. 

Glorious Goddesses Of Ancient Ireland is a richly magical read and a stunningly visual treat. 

I would recommend this book for anyone ages 8+. 

I would like to thank the Beehive Books team for sending me a copy of this book to review. 

Important Note – This is not an ad.

This is not sponsored.

This is not a paid review. 

All thoughts and opinions shared are entirely my own.

You can order your very own copy of Glorious Goddesses Of Ancient Ireland written by Karen Ward and illustrated by Paula McGloin on

Social Links: @katelovesliterature  @drkarenwardtherapist @paulamcgloin 

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of reviewing another book published by Beehive Books,  The Song of Brigid’s Cloak, written by Catherine Ann Cullen and illustrated by Katya Swan. 

You can read my review by clicking this link  


More Social Links: @catherineanncullen @katya_swan_illustrations

November by Elizabeth Stoddard: A Poem for the Season.

November by Elizabeth Stoddard. 

A poetry discussion by Kate O’Brien. 

Over the past few days, I’ve been reading different poems that have all been inspired in some way by the month of November. 

I’ve said before that I find autumn to be a very inspiring and evocative time of year. 

It is a time of year that seems to inspire descriptions so naturally. Colours seem more vivid and there seems to be a heightened awareness about our surroundings as autumn and winter bring so many physical changes. The nights grow longer, leaves turn gold and red before they fall, leaving the trees completely bare. Writers approach autumn in many different ways. 

Some describe it as a melancholy time, some focus on all of the changes that are happening in nature. Some writers reflect on the cycle of the seasons and comment on how we must lose the leaves in autumn so that everything can bloom again in spring. Some writers love autumn and they write about the beauty that can be found in crisp skies and golden leaves. 

A poem that I came across recently is November by Elizabeth Stoddard. 

It is a short poem, only four stanzas long, and the poem seems to capture everything that I’ve mentioned above. In the poem, Stoddard highlights her fondness for the season, she states that “autumn charms my melancholy mind.” (Stoddard, November, Line 4.)

The second stanza references the changes in scenery, the cycle that nature must follow. 

“The year must perish; all the flowers are dead.” (Stoddard, Line 6.) 

The third stanza discusses the excitement in the air that autumn brings because autumn leads us into the festive season, which is why many people like it. She writes “Still, autumn ushers in the Christmas cheer, The holly-berries and the ivy-tree.” (Stoddard, Lines 9-10.)

The final stanza is what stood out to me. It caught my attention because I found it to be very poignant. Stoddard talks about the stillness of autumn, the quietness of it. It can be a reflective time after all, when one is staring out at grey skies. 

Stoddard’s closing line says “The naked, silent trees have taught me this, —

The loss of beauty is not always loss!” (Stoddard, Lines 15-16.) 

This line is what stayed with me. I find that there is something very lovely about it. 

This is a very straightforward poem in my opinion. Stoddard uses everyday, easy language. 

Nothing is overcomplicated or hard to follow. The poem is short, simple, and yet there is something very charming about it. I think Stoddard captures the emptiness that autumn can bring, but this emptiness does not have to be a bad thing. 

I find that there is something beautiful about grey skies. I find looking out at bare trees and grey skies very peaceful. The emptiness is beautiful in its own way. I always look forward to a new year, there is something very exciting about it. I think I feel this way because I like looking at the new year as an opportunity for fresh starts and new chapters, but this feeling cannot exist without autumn. I like taking time to reflect, to appreciate all that I have and all that I have done. 

The leaves falling almost symbolise the end of one chapter, we say goodbye to the old, to the year that has nearly gone by, before embracing the new. 

The naked, silent trees are peaceful. They are beautiful, and soon they will have new leaves again. That is autumn. It is a time of change. It is no wonder that so many writers enjoy focusing on the season in their works. 

If you have not read November by Elizabeth Stoddard, I would recommend it. 

It is short and sweet, but rather poignant as the poem captures something that is hard to explain, although I feel that I have made a very good attempt at explaining it. 

If you’re not really a poetry lover, but you’re trying to read poetry more often, this is a poem that I would recommend because it is so short. It is an easy read, and this kind of poem does not require readers to have an in-depth understanding of poetic, literary devices. It is simply a charming read. 

I read this poem on

“November by Elizabeth Drew Barstow Stoddard.” By Elizabeth Drew Barstow Stoddard – Famous Poems, Famous Poets. – All Poetry,

Have you ever read this poem? Do you have any autumn inspired poems that you love?

The Heart and the Bottle: Grief and Hope in Children’s Literature.

The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers. 

A review by Kate O’Brien.

The beginning of November is a time when many of us think about those who we have lost. 

It feels as though I am stating the obvious when I say that grieving can be a very difficult experience. Grief is a very complex feeling as many people grieve differently, and it is almost impossible to know how you will handle grief until something happens that makes you grieve.

Grief is a prominent theme in many, many works of literature as grief can be expressed in many different ways. When looking at children’s literature, the question of how does one approach the subject of grief with children is a difficult one. 

Unfortunately, children are not immune to bad experiences and loss, so to pretend that children are not impacted by grief would be unfair and unrealistic, however, grief is a complex feeling and so it is a complex topic to talk about in children’s fiction. 

I think it is important that children do see grief in stories, especially because children who are grieving themselves can see something that they relate to, and a story can have the power to be comforting. I also think that it is important that the topic is handled carefully, because while it is important to acknowledge that children do suffer loss and they do grieve too, it is also important that the information is given to children in a sensitive and age appropriate way, so that the story does provide comfort rather than cause more upset. 

The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers is a really beautiful story about grief. 

I love this book. I cried the first time I read it because I feel that it depicts grief in a very realistic way, without being too gloomy. The story does not diminish the impact of grief, it does show how much grief can impact one’s life, but there is hope and I think having that hope is very important. 

The story is about a little girl who is filled with wonder and curiosity. Her father fuels this curiosity by reading her lots of stories and answering all of her questions and encouraging her to explore the world and all of its wonders. The girl and her father are very close, so you can imagine how upset the girl was when one day she came downstairs only to find her father’s chair empty. 

That empty chair says everything. 

The little girl’s heart is heavy with grief, and she never wants anything to hurt her heart ever again so she puts it in a glass bottle to keep it safe. This works for a while, the girl feels nothing, but as she gets older, she learns that wrapping away your heart means that while you block out the grief, you’re also blocking out joys. When the girl decides it is time to take her heart back, she finds that it is not so easy to take it back out of the bottle. 

I love this story. I love how true it is. When you build a wall around your heart, it is extremely hard to knock it down again. It is hard to be vulnerable, it is hard to put yourself out there. It is hard to risk another heartbreak, but putting ourselves out there, caring about things, caring about others, loving others, that is where we find joy, but allowing our hearts to love and find joy, means that we risk grief. The risk is worth it though. 

When the little girl locked her heart away, she locked away all of her questions, her curiosity, her wonder, and she no longer took any notice of anything. Instead of locking away her grief, she became consumed by it because locking away your heart means that you are closing yourself off from life. The girl grows up and when she is a grown woman, she sees another little girl who is full of wonder, and this girl reminds the woman of all she has lost, prompting her to want to take her heart back. 

Despite the story highlighting how what started off as a coping mechanism slowly became something that was hurting the girl even more, demonstrating how much grief can consume a person, overall I found it to be a very hopeful tale. One that is about finding happiness again after a loss, and how even though it is difficult, it is worth it. 

Happiness can be found again, it does not mean that we are forgetting about those whom we miss. The little girl’s father always encouraged her wonder, and he would not want her to go through life without experiencing any joys. He would not want her to lose her curiosity. 

The first time I read this story, it made me very emotional and it still does. I still tear up a little when the girl takes her heart back. 

Taking your heart back does not mean that grief ends automatically, and it does not mean that you no longer think about those you miss, but taking your heart back means that you are allowing yourself to live fully again. You’re allowing yourself to experience joy and wonder again, and that is a very hopeful thing. 

If you haven’t read The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers, I would highly recommend it. It is a very poignant read. If you have dealt with grief, I think this book is very relatable and very comforting, and if you have not experienced grief, then this book shines a light on how much grief can impact someone, so it is important to be kind and considerate as you never know how someone can be struggling, even if they pretend that everything is fine. 

Jeffers handles grief in a poignant and beautiful way, and I am very glad that I came across this story.

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe.

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe.

October isn’t over yet and I’ve decided that Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven is a brilliant poem to read in the lead up to Halloween.

If you’re not a fan of Poe or you are unfamiliar with his work, I would recommend The Raven, because it is one of Poe’s most well-known poems. I would suggest that this poem is Poe’s most famous work, simply because of how often the poem gets parodied.

I recently watched a Halloween episode of The Simpsons. It was one of the “Treehouse of Horror” episodes, season 2, episode 3. The third section of this particular episode is an adaptation of Poe’s The Raven. It was fantastic. If you want to be introduced to this piece in a very fun way, then I would absolutely recommend this episode. The “Treehouse of Horror” episodes of The Simpsons are always great fun. I am a casual watcher, so I had never seen this particular episode before, so I was happily surprised to see that The Raven was featured. Hearing the poem again in this episode reminded me of just how much I enjoy the work of Edgar Allan Poe.

The Raven was published in 1845 and it is made up of eighteen stanzas.

I really love this poem because I think it is a piece that really demonstrates Poe’s writing style. It is no secret that I am a fan of gothic literature. I enjoy the way gothic literature subverts expectations and builds suspense. Gothic stories often take place in very vivid settings. To sum up; I love gothic literature because of how evocative it can be.

It has been said that Edgar Allan Poe is a brilliant example of a gothic writer. I would have to say that I agree with this statement because Poe’s writing often explores themes of death and despair, while also being on the verge of terrifying. Poe also uses repetition to build up a sense of urgency in his pieces, alongside utilizing descriptions to create very vivid pictures with his words.

The Raven is a poem that encapsulates all of the above mentioned characteristics. The poem is about a man who is desperately lonely and heartbroken after the death of the love of his life. On a cold winter night, a raven taps on the window and on the door. He opens the window, letting the bird in, but he slowly becomes driven mad by this raven.

The raven seems to be talking back to the man, although all the bird can croak out is the word “nevermore”. Now one can ask if the bird is actually croaking out that word? One interpretation could be that the man is imagining the bird is responding to him, or one could imagine that perhaps this bird is somehow communicating with this man.

I would say that this poem is about a man who is descending deeper and deeper into sadness and despair after the death of his wife. He thinks about how the bird will soon leave the room, leaving him, just as his loved ones have left him. The man goes on to question if he will someday be reunited with his love Lenore, but all the bird says is “nevermore”.

The man becomes more and more distraught by the raven’s response. His sadness turns to anger as he gets angry at the bird constantly saying “nevermore”. The man is driven mad by the raven, and he decides the raven is a thing of evil.

In all of my readings about The Raven, something that I have come across many times is that apparently Poe himself stated that the raven was a symbol of grief, and he felt that a raven suited the dark theme of the poem.

One could also say that this poem is a gothic romance, as it is about a man who is utterly devastated by the loss of his love, clearly showing that his love for Lenore remained just as strong after she died. He hopes to be reunited with her someday. His grief drives him so mad that he asks a raven questions that the bird cannot possibly answer.

The Raven is a beautiful, musical poem despite being so very sad. This poem is a lovely one to read aloud, and I would say that this is due to Poe’s frequent use of alliteration and repetition.

Theory Time.

Poe has used trochaic octameter in The Raven.

What does this mean?

This means that each poetic meter has eight trochaic feet in each line, and each foot contains a stressed syllable that is followed by an unstressed syllable. This is a meter that is not used often, however I would say that the rhythm it creates, paired with Poe’s alliteration and repetition is why this poem became so famous. It is musical. It flows off the tongue beautifully, and you can’t help but become passionate when you say it aloud, because you become urgent, just like the man does.

I think that the poem is very evocative because there is a lot of onomatopoeia used by Poe.

Onomatopoeia is when a word sounds like what it describes  – “buzz,” “whoosh,” “splat.” These are words that are great examples of onomatopoeia.

I would argue that Poe uses quite straightforward language. The poem is easy to follow, however the repetition of very similar words can leave the reader slightly tongue twisted on the first attempt.  

The Raven is an evocative, gothic poem that makes for a very eerie, moving read. It is an especially brilliant poem to turn to when one is studying poetry as this poem allows readers to analyse several different poetic literary devices such as alliteration, onomatopoeia, repetition, imagery, etc. as mentioned above. It is one thing to talk about literary devices, but it is really helpful when you can see how a writer has used these techniques to create something very beautiful and very musical.

If you’ve never read The Raven then I would highly recommend that you do. It is a brilliant October read.

Do you have a favourite poem? Let me know.

Kate xo.

Irish Book Week: Irish Books & Irish Authors.

It is #IrishBookWeek! 

Ireland not only has a rich, literary history, but Ireland is also home to some extremely talented & creative writers. 

This week is Irish Book Week and if you follow me on instagram @katelovesliterature, then you will already know that everyday this week I have been recommending a book that is written by an Irish author or written in Irish. 

If you don’t follow me Instagram – you should, there’s lots of fun posts happening on my page all the time – but if you don’t follow me there that’s okay because I am going to list my recommendations right here on


The Dog Who Lost His Bark. 

Written by Eoin Colfer, illustrated by PJ Lynch, & published by Walker Books, this book is a heartwarming tale about a boy & his dog. These two need each other & they get each other through hard times. I would recommend this book for anyone aged 9+. It is important to be aware that there are some mentions of animal mistreatment that more sensitive readers may struggle to read. Overall, this story is warm & up-lifting.

I’d highly recommend it. 


Irish Fairy Tales. 

Written by James Stephens, illustrated by Arthur Rackham, & published by Macmillan & Co., this book is a stunning collection of legendary tales, all set in medieval Ireland. If you’re a fan of Irish mythology, this is a fantastic read. This book is a rich addition to any bookshelf. 


Beag Bídeach 

Written by Sadhbh Devlin, illustrated by Róisin Hahessy, & published by Futa Fata, this charming story is about a little girl who sometimes wishes she could actually go inside her doll’s house to play with them instead of her little brother. I’m sure this is an idea that many children, and let’s be honest, many adults will be able to relate to. This story is a great way to introduce children to the Irish language & encourage them to read in Irish outside of the classroom. 


An Slipéar Gloine 

Written by Fearghas Mac Lochlainn, illustrated by Paddy Donnelly, & published by Futa Fata, this story is an Irish language picture book that tells the timeless story of Cinderella through delightful rhymes that are accompanied by magical illustrations. 

This enchanting picture book recently won the Gradam Réics Carló 2022! 

The story of Cinderella has always been my favourite fairytale. It holds a special place in my heart & I’m delighted to have a beautiful Irish version on my bookshelf. I’d highly recommend it. Is breá liom é!

There are so many more Irish authors that I could write about & I hope to keep expanding my collection of books that are written in Irish. One week dedicated to Irish books is just not enough. Sometimes I’m convinced that I could talk about books for eternity. 

I really enjoy recommending books. I also enjoy the challenge of trying to describe a book in just a few words, while attempting to do it justice. All of the books I’ve mentioned above are such charming reads. I will be publishing more recommendations going forward, & I will continue to speak about Irish authors & Irish books even after #IrishBookWeek ends. 

My biggest goal is to continually broaden my horizons & always add to my bookshelf. I want to read books from all writers, from all places, from all backgrounds, so I will not only be talking about Irish authors, but as many authors as possible. 

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Follow me on Instagram & TikTok if you don’t already. It’s lots of fun. My handle is always @katelovesliterature

I love hearing opinions, comments, & feedback so don’t be shy, let me hear your thoughts. 

Let’s talk about literature!

The Tell-Tale Heart.

Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart. 

Edgar Allan Poe’s short story was originally published in 1843. 

Poe’s short story is written in the first person point of view, and an unnamed narrator takes us through how they decided to kill an old man. The unnamed narrator describes how they committed the murder, and the guilt they felt after the murder, all while they attempt to assure readers of their sanity. 

Poe’s story is unsettling as it is full of contradictions. The narrator has no reason to kill the old man, but does so because they are driven mad by his eye. Poe is purposely very vague. We do not know who the old man is in relation to the narrator, which leaves the story open to many interpretations. 

Is the narrator the old man’s son? Is the narrator related to the old man at all? Is the narrator a man or a woman? Is the narrator a caretaker? A servant? We don’t know. We don’t know anything about the narrator other than the fact that the narrator is driven mad by the old man’s glass eye. The narrator describes the eye as being like a “vulture’s eye” and the narrator is so tormented by this eye that they decide to act on their murderous thoughts. 

I’ve always interpreted this short story to be about how one can be haunted by their conscience. I would suggest that the story’s main theme is the idea of one being driven mad by guilt. 

The narrator kills the old man and disposes of his body by dismembering him and hiding him in the floorboards. The narrator cannot get away with murder because they are haunted by a thumping sound, a beating sound. The narrator is driven mad and prompted to confess by the sound of what they believe to be the old man’s beating heart, just as the narrator was once driven mad by the old man’s eye. 

The narrator is consumed by guilt, consumed by the idea that others can hear the heart too, and so ultimately, the narrator confesses their crime to the police, hence the title the tell-tale heart. 

Poe’s writing style is very intriguing, very gothic. He uses repetition and choppy sentences to pull readers in. The story is an enticing mix of matter of fact yet bizarre. The narrator is many things. The narrator is cold, calculated, and unflinching as they commit murder, but the narrator was driven to commit murder by an obsession with the old man’s glass eye. One must ask, why did the glass eye bother the narrator so much? Why would a glass eye bother someone so intently that they commit murder? One can ask if the eye represented something? Something that us readers are not privy to.

Poe’s short story begins in media res. This means that when the story begins, the plot is already in motion, so readers are immediately taken in by the narrator’s voice. “I loved the old man,” the narrator says, adding, “He had never wronged me.” (Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart, 1843.)

 The narrator is already speaking when the story begins, so immediately readers are tasked with attempting to understand the narrator. 

The story is written in the first person which means that we don’t learn anything about the old man beyond what the narrator tells us. The narrator states that they loved the old man, and that they really had no reason to dislike him or hurt him, but readers have no idea if this is true. The narrator also informs readers that they are sensitive and terribly nervous, and prone to hallucinations, so already we can say that this narrator is an unreliable one. 

If the narrator is of a very nervous disposition, then there is no way to know if one can trust that events happened the way that the narrator says they did. 

Sanity is brought up a lot in this short story. The narrator constantly wants to reassure readers that they are sane, but this talk of sanity is directly clashed against the narrator’s description of a cold and calculated murder. It’s very strange, because the narrator being driven to murder by a glass eye is irrational, but they carry out their plan to murder the old man without wavering. The narrator dismembers the body and hides it without flinching. These are not the actions of an extremely nervous person. 

The narrator’s nervous disposition is obvious again only after the murder has been committed. The body is hidden, and now the narrator is tormented by the sound of the old man’s beating heart. The heart, arguably, represents a guilty conscience. I think it is fair to say that the heart is not actually still beating, but the narrator is feeling so guilty about their actions that they believe they can hear the heartbeat. Seeing as it is October, one could interpret this short story as a ghost story and say that perhaps the heart is still beating and the old man is purposely haunting the narrator so that the narrator will confess. 

One could also examine the idea of power that exists in this story. While we don’t know who the characters are, one can assume that the old man is in a higher position than the narrator. The “vulture’s eye” is always watching, so the narrator wants to close the eye forever. 

The idea that the old man’s glass eye is always watching could lead one to believe that the old man was always critiquing the narrator, always making the narrator anxious about their actions, but we cannot know this for sure because the story begins when the old man is already dead. The fact that the old man’s heartbeat haunts the narrator and forces a confession demonstrates that the old man had power over the narrator even in death – that is of course if we are looking at this like a ghost story. 

If one does not look at this as a ghost story, but rather as a story about how a guilty conscience can be all consuming, it is not the old man who has power over the narrator in death after all. It is the narrator’s guilt that has the power, because that guilt gnawed away at the narrator so much that they believed they could hear the old man’s heart. The narrator’s guilt is their undoing. The narrator confesses to escape the sound of the heartbeat. One could ask if the narrator didn’t confess, would they have gotten away with it? One can imagine that the police cannot hear the heart, but the narrator’s guilt and paranoia makes them believe that they can, proving that the sound of the heartbeat is all in the narrator’s mind. 

One can ask, did the heartbeat drive the narrator mad? Or were they struggling with madness all along? Would a different point of view reveal more details? Of course, but I think the reason this story is so intriguing is because there is so much we don’t know, it is extremely vague, so it forces interest. 

I think that the narrator was driven mad by their own guilt, and had they not confessed, they may have gotten away with murder. I don’t think it is a ghost story, I don’t think that the heart is actually still beating, but I do think it is interesting to imagine it this way.

Have you read The Tell-Tale Heart? How do you interpret this story? 

Kate xo.