Something a little different for you today on the OiNK Blog. The mother of one of my best friends is about to release her first ever book, Crescent Witches. In fact, the book launch takes place in Belfast on Sunday 2nd April and I’ll be there. It sounds like it could be a great read, and I’m not just saying that because she’s Emma’s mum! Witchcraft, monsters, dark secrets and the return of great evil, all set in identifiable locations across the north of Ireland, this sounds right up my street.

Here’s the blurb from the back of the book:

Just over a century since the Great War had ended, witches and wizards had defeated the evil Johnagock and banished them to a hell dimension forever.

Many years then passed with all magical creatures living in peace across the veil hidden from the human world.

Then one dreadful night the young witch Amelia Crescent’s worst nightmares returned to haunt her once more, the Johnagock were back.

It’s now up to Amelia, with the help of her sister Georgette, to uncover the dark secrets of their family’s past and discover the truth behind their parents’ deaths in order to defeat their evil foe once again.

Author Margaret McMahon is from the heart of Belfast city. She has a daughter and a son. Margaret trained and worked as a professional florist and also worked in an Irish language school. This is her first novel.

Anyone who has watched movies or TV series filmed in or around places near their home will know the thrill of seeing them on the screen. For me this has included TV series such as The Fall, Derry Girls and Line of Duty (and Game of Thrones, but I’ll admit I’ve never seen it) and movies Dracula Untold, The Lost City of Z and (unsurprisingly) Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast. But a fantasy novel set in places I know so well is a new one for me and an aspect of the story I’m particularly looking forward to.

For example, there’s a gateway to another realm inside the famous leaning Albert Clock in the centre of Belfast. This is something I’ve walked past hundreds of times, not noticing the spooky intricate details that would suit a story like this so well until I saw the images used for the cover of Maggie’s book! Elsewhere, Carrickfergus Castle (another famous filming location for many a flick) is a school in the other realm and I bet you didn’t know all those tiny octagonal rocks that form the Giant’s Causeway along the north coast are actually dwellings in a magical hidden city!

“I’m hoping that this book will give people with dyslexia and other conditions, especially young people, the courage to get up and do it.”

Margaret McMahon

Just to add to the local magic, the spells and incantations in the story are all Irish which I think is a lovely touch. The book sounds like great fun and has already featured in the press, most notably the Belfast Telegraph, Andersontown News and North Belfast News, and the Derry News where more of the story is also set. You can see a selection of these write-ups below.

Margaret (or Maggie as I know her) was always creative but due to dyslexia in her school days she never really fulfilled that dream of writing a story for publication until now, encouraged by her children. (Knowing Emma the way I do, that encouragement may have been difficult to ignore!)

“Technology is amazing,” Maggie says in a newspaper interview. “It has allowed me to write this book, something I never thought I’d be able to do after years of struggling. I couldn’t understand why everyone else could understand all the words on the page and they just didn’t make sense to me. It was only years later that I realised I had dyslexia. I left school with no education but I was always creative and artistic. I ended up becoming a florist and I’ve worked as one for most of my life. I also worked as an assistant at Bunscoil Mhic Reachtain for a number of years.”

The book launch will take place in McHugh’s bar in Belfast right beside the aforementioned Albert Clock, next door to the Laganside bus depot if you’re travelling into the city and a short walk from Lanyon Place train station (formerly Belfast Central). It kicks off at 2pm and I’ll be there along with Maggie and Emma, so please come along if you can.

As Maggie herself put it, “I’m hoping that this book will give people with dyslexia and other conditions, especially young people, the courage to get up and do it. If I can do it, anyone can. Don’t let your disabilities hold you back.”

Crescent Witches can be ordered now on Shanway Press’ website at this link.


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