Haven by Emma Donoghue is a historical fiction novel about the dangerous effects of blind faith and obedience. Artt, a scholar, priest, and hermit has a dream while visiting Cluain Mhic Nois monastery in Ireland sometime in the seventh century. He believes God has told him to take two monks and head to an unknown island. He chooses the young Trian and the older Cormac as his companions. He requires them to take a vow of obedience to him, even though he acknowledges that such a vow tends to make sheep of men.
The group of three becomes the first landing party on Skellig Michael off the coast of Southwest Ireland. Artt is much more concerned with setting up a chapel and copying scripture than he is with taking care of basic necessities, such as food, shelter, and fuel. He foolishly believes that God will provide everything. He also believes that future generations will forever bless the name of the mission’s founder, holy Artt. Artt treats Trian and Cormac as his inferiors in all matters and punishes them if they question his authority. The two take their vow of obedience seriously, even when their survival is at risk.
While the subject matter is fascinating, I found myself bored at times with the slowness of this character-focused story. I also I was not fond of the flowery language that was often used. For example: “The sea is quite glassy, as if God’s poured oil on it. As the red berry of the sun floats up into the sky, Trian can see everything: the silken fabric of the ocean, stretched out smooth with barely a ripple; flocks of voracious cormorants and moaning puffins working the water.”
3-stars. This novel will be published on August 23, 2022. Thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for my advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.