The Last Storyteller. Frank Delaney. Random House. February 2012. 400 pages. ISBN #: 9781400067855.
Ben McCarthy has finally taken up the professional mantle of his mentors as a collector of folklore, and he is certainly at his best in this latest novel by Frank Delaney. Three stories are interwoven herein, Ben's collecting, recording, and sharing of numerous Irish tales that have an uncanny resonance in his own life, as well as being absolutely intriguing to readers of all ages. For what is a story but a re-imagining of the ups and downs of real life supported by the ideal, the fantastic, the imaginative, the mythological! This is the legacy inherited and celebrated from the great James Clare, a lovely, gifted storyteller surpassing all other tale tellers!
Ben, however, has never forgot the woman he loves who was kidnapped from him. Venetia has been married to an abusive shyster for so long that the spark is almost totally extinguished in her former vibrant actress self; however, if Ben can work up enough courage, encouraged by all of his significant friends, he can perhaps rescue her and form a new relationship with her and their two children. What is holding him back and could it be like if he acted as he knows from the first page, an act of honor, courage and beauty beyond any reality?
While this is happening, the Irish Uprising of 1956 begins and Ben inadvertently is drawn into its violence and confusion. But there is a tale here as well, beneath and above the seedy and selfish side of these angry men who abhor being brutally held under England's rule. Although rebellions are put down ruthlessly, nothing stops these men and women from doing what they must to free their own land, one they love and will die for, if necessary. No, it's not about crime; it's about testing the passionate patriotism of every involved person, as well as those who carefully watch and wait for success!
To say more would spoil this lovely, engaging, action-packed, romantic (in more than one sense), and wise novel written in mesmerizing style. Frank Delaney is in top form here, and this reviewer believes this is his finest work yet - more sincere, more heart-felt, more magical, more intense, all in all, sheer delight worthy of the finest bards in history! Thank you and congratulations, Frank Delaney! The depth of your latest novel defies plain words - the Muse has filled these pages with your talent - a literate gem!