I’ve read quite a few Irish novels lately. In the Forest is my most recent read that falls into that category. This novel is based on a true story and is a creepy look into the mind of a killer. The killer in question is Michen O’Kane who we first meet as a young 10-year old boy in a small Irish town. Michen had a troubled home life full of domestic abuse and neglect. Michen becomes known as The Kinderschreck after he steals a gun and shoots it in the general direction of two men.
The Kinderschreck. That’s what the German man called him when he stole the gun. Before that he was Michen, after a saint, and then Mich, his mother’s pet, and then Boy, when he went to the place, and then Child, when Father Damien had him helping with the flowers and the cruets in the sacristy, and then K, short for O’Kane, when his hoodlum times began.
Michen is sent to a juvenile detention center where he is tormented by the older boys and abused by a priest. He spends the next several years in and out of various detention centers and jails. Over time, Michen becomes a very troubled and mentally unstable young man. The residents of his small Irish village try to tolerate him at first but soon enough start to feel terrified of him.
The novel is told with alternating perspectives in each chapter. Some chapters are told from Michen’s point of view, some from his victims and other chapters from the various villagers whose paths Michen crosses. The prose was lyrical and the Michen chapters could be very difficult and disturbing reads at times. His mind became so twisted it was hard to tell what was real and what was dementia.
I recommend this book to those who enjoyed other books that let the reader delve into mind of a killer such as Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood or Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman. In the Forest was included on the original list of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. I am slowly working my way through that list (I can’t resist tackling to-do lists) At this rate I hope I don’t die until I am 120. Must.finish.all.1001.books… 😉