Treachery at Midnight
Reviewed in ‘In Touch’ March 2005
Reviewed by Siobhán
UI Bhraoin, Scoil Chualann,
Bóthar Vevay, Bré,
Co Chill Mhantáin.
‘I shovelled the earth over him and hid him forever.
I carried over a heavy flagstone and I carved these words:
"Here lies Conan, the fierce and the
The device of a prologue is employed to great effect in
this book, engaging the reader’s interest immediately.
I finished it in one sitting but its 160 pages would make
informative and thought-provoking listening during a week of
afternoon reading aloud, bringing history alive in the most
natural of forms, the good story.
Not only is the factual historical background to be gleaned
from this easily-read, fast-flowing narrative but also issues
of a more personal nature are examined as we follow Columba,
in the shadow of his foster brother, as he grew in strength
and stature to manhood.
The female interest comes in the guise of Sorcha who
A puppy features, as does a robbery, and a death.
Skirmishing on fair-days, Viking raids, and an escape amid
Atlantic storms are vividly recreated.
We even have a bit of romance, thankfully of the un-soppy
kind, and a happy ending.
What more could we want? If you have been discussing
monastic Ireland, the Book of Kells, or Celtic life this is
the book for your class.
Chronicles, Treachery at Midnight by Cora Harrison
Published by Mentor Books Cost: €6.95
Suitable age group: 9-12
Treachery at Midnight
Reviewed in Sunday Tribune 12 December 2004
reviewed by Mary Arrigan
Treachery at Midnight is quite the best of the Drumshee
When he’s born, Columba’s parents reject him because of
a birthmark which they interpret as the deviles. Claw.
Instead they focus their love on Conan, their foster child.
When the father breaks his natural son’s heart by giving
away his puppy, the new owner invites the child to visit as
often as he likes.
Thus Columba meets Sorcha who becomes the focal point of
But life takes a cruel turn and the boy’s life changes
The well-crafted love story blends the gentleness of 8th
century life with its darker side of greed, treachery and
There are no blatant goodies and baddies; each character is
well rounded and credible.
Drumshee Chronicles: Murder Strikes Again.
Reviewed in Books Ireland December 2004
Ita and fellow students investigate in fifth century
Ireland when Cetterick, a cruel and arrogant priest is
He had enemies – his wife, a slave, a jealous druid, a
goldsmith and a farmer.
Good to see this excellent series continuing.
Reviewed in Books Ireland November 2004
Fern Hamilton is gorgeous.
She has gorgeous emerald green eyes and ivory skin, the
film crew tell her.
She can’t believe it – she thought she was just pale,
skinny and with funny coloured eyes.
She could believe it either when she was chosen instead of
her best friend Zara, instead of any of the other girls in
Sixth Class, for a small part in a film being shot in the
When it was first announced in class that the film producer
was looking for a twelve-year-old girl to take the place of an
actress who had fallen sick, everyone thought it would be Zara
for sure – or Ann.
Both girls were blonde and beautiful.
All the girls were excited, though – it could be any of
them. However, when Fern is chosen and the door into the film
world opens; another slams shut behind her.
Zara stops being her friend; Zara becomes pally with Ann
and the other girls talking and whispering together, leaving
Fern out in the cold. Fern has to wake up to the fact that she
never really Zara’s best friend; she was Zara’s puppet.
She did what Zara wanted to do and voiced no opinions of
Her father has cancer and not only that, but his operation
coincides with her confirmation day.
Fern has to cope with feelings of grief and rejection
erupting at peculiar times but in the process learns the value
of real friendships.
Gorgeous is a wonderful book.
Funny, warm and deadly accurate in the complexities of
pre-adolescent relationships, it has much to recommend it to
girl readers in the 10-12 age groups.
Reviewed by Sarah Bunce aged 12 from County Clare.
I read Gorgeous in around 3 hours.
Gorgeous is an amazing story to read.
This story explores the emotions of growing up. With
lifelike characters and a story that could have happened in
real life, this book leaves you gasping for breath because you
have both cried and laughed so much.
I could not put this book down.
The book revolves around Fern.
Is her life about to change? Is Zara acting strange because
of the film? What’s going on between dad and mum? Cora
Harrison's new piece is the work of a genius.
I hope you like it.
Reviewed in School Library Journal, USA
Grade 5-7-A series linked by its setting - Drumshee, an
Irish fort dating back to the Iron Age.
In 1847, the four McMahon children are orphaned by the
"black fever" afflicting the population at the onset
of the potato blight, and the twin girls and their brothers
are forced by the local powers-that-be to enter a workhouse.
At first it seems that Fiona's dreams of becoming a writer and
teacher are over, and that Deirdre's lacemaking talents will
be wasted, but determination prevails, and soon the four are
plotting to reclaim their home.
The orphaned heroine of The Secret of Drumshee Castle has
no siblings to comfort her. Grace Barry, a member of the
aristocracy during Elizabethan times, is heiress to the castle
and 4000 acres. At the age of seven, she finds herself
suddenly under the custody of an aunt and uncle who see her as
an obstacle to seizing the Drumshee property. As years pass,
Grace becomes a well-educated, accomplished, but lonely
teenager. When her guardians turn murderous, she flees to
Queen Elizabeth's court, where surprising consequences result.
The framework of this series is reminiscent of Lucy
Boston's classic "Green Knowe" stories (Harcourt),
but these books are not derivative. Where Boston's prose is
poetic and evocative, Harrison uses simple language that is as
spare and straightforward as that of traditional folktales,
and the narratives are reinforced by Roche's illustrations in
a naive style.
Good choices for students interested in European history.
Starr E. Smith, Marymount University Library, Arlington, VA
Copyright 1998 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Secret Spy from Drumshee
Reviewed by Heather aged 10 from County Mayo.
I think 'Secret Spy' is an excellent book.
I am nearly half way through already and I just got it a
day ago! It is so interesting to see how a disabled boy is so
determined to see that Daniel O'Connell is safe, despite the
fact he cannot walk or talk properly.
Mary-Ann is very well developed too, she's also ambitious
to become an actress.
She tries so hard to prove to people that her brother isn't
a gormless idiot.
I think the relationship between them is so strong.
Ronan is stubborn but smart.
Mary-Ann knows him so well that she can understand him, not
just by his muffled words that she knows so well, but she
understands his thoughts.
I think she has a deep personality.
She's a lovely girl, but she's sad at the fact her brother
cannot play and talk with her like others would.
But she loves him all the same.
You come up with the smallest idea to put in the story, but
that little event makes such a difference to the depth of the
Bruno the dog for example, he makes the character of Ronan
seem so much more alive!
So far in the seven chapters I've read, there is no
criticism I can make!
A Fantastic Book From You Again, Cora, Thanks!
World War II Rescue at Drumshee
Published by Wolfhound Press Ltd., 2001, ISBN 0863278493
Reviewed by Kilmihil Library Children’s Book Club
This book is set in 1940. Brother and sister, Clive and
Marjorie live in Kent with their father Bob Chandler. Their
mother was killed in a bomb blast the year before. Bob is an
RAF pilot and flies a Spitfire. Marjorie lives in constant
fear that Bob will be killed and that she and Clive will be
orphans. Clive loves the excitement of war and knows all about
the different types of aeroplanes that fly over them in Kent.
Bob decides to send Clive and Marjorie to their Irish
cousins in Drumshee Co. Clare, to escape the dangers of the
war at home. The McMahon’s live on a farm in Kilfenora. Mike
and Maggie and their son James live on the farm.
Visiting them for the summer from America is their daughter
Bridget and her twins Patsy and Paddy, and also their niece
Kitty with her daughter Vivien. Kitty’s son Ed is away in
the American merchant navy.
Marjorie and Clive settle in to life in Drumshee and get on
well with their cousins. They camp out and have lots of fun.
They also have to help out on the farm and Marjorie begins to
lose the fears and anxieties that made her so unhappy in
England. However, one day a telegram arrives for Kitty to tell
her that Ed’s ship has been lost at sea, bombed by a German
Kitty and Vivien are beside themselves with worry. To
distract Vivien the children decide to go camping to the Aran
Islands. While on Aran they have an amazing adventure. A
German U- boat comes ashore for fresh water and they discover
that Ed is a prisoner on board.
They come up with a daring plan and rescue their cousin and
bring him and his friends back home to Drumshee.
This is one of the Timeline series of books by Cora
Harrison. It was a very popular read by the members of the
book club. They found it very exciting and liked that the book
was set in Clare.
Some said the language used in the book was wonderfully
descriptive and they could picture in their minds eye what was
happening. They would definitely recommend this book to others
Rating: 10 out of 10.
Drumshee Timeline series
Review in Books Ireland 2000
‘…the Drumshee Timeline series which history teachers
should be very grateful for giving readers a sense of the
timespan of history while enjoying excellent adventure
Drumshee Timeline series
School Library Journal, USA
‘The Drumshee Timeline Series is a good choice for
students interested in history.’