Author: Haze O’Hagan | Self-published
I was very kindly gifted a copy of Haze: The Devil of Dublin by the author, who contacted me on Instagram. Yes, I’m doing the Instagram now… The description seemed to have a certain novelty to it, and the cover was beautiful, so I think I was sold before I even started.
I should mention, I received The Devil of Dublin in its raw state; of which, I was warned by the author. I’m a picky reader, and tend to steer clear of the self-published genre because people who self-publish don’t always also edit… It frustrates me. Oh, for the delicate touches of a good editor! How many mediocre books could have been great, if someone had only been allowed to edit them… And yes, when I read it, The Devil of Dublin needed an edit here and there to tighten up aspects of the language and the shape of the plot. But. With a really good book, which this is, the plot and the characters shine through all the rough edges.
I’m struggling to categorise the book. I suppose I would say it was a sort of dystopian sci-fi, action, family drama? I’ll unpick that a bit for you.
The story is set in Dublin in 2050, in a world which is both familiar and at the same time terrifyingly different. If anything, the familiarity of certain aspects of life in Dublin makes the dystopian nature of the worldbuilding more pronounced. This is not a comfortable read, but it does challenge your thinking – which I value. The events have a surreal quality against this backdrop of a world where everything you know is turned on its head, and I enjoyed how this created a subtle sense discordance.
There was a sort of inevitability about the world and the direction in which the characters were led. In Haze O’Hagan’s Dublin of the future, technology and faith are at war. The technological advances were staggering, but you could imagine it happening. In some ways, it wasn’t too far from our own expectations about where technology might go; only, the dial had been turned up to 100, and everything was more extreme. The book opens a discussion, or train of thought, around this intersection between technology, modernity, our modern society, and the more traditional values of faith and religion. It’s an interesting concept.
…many of us spend the currency of time seeking peace.
If it wasn’t clear already, this is a book dealing with some big themes. More and more in modern sci-fi, we’re seeing authors being unafraid to talk about difficult and challenging themes. For which, of course, the genre acts as a perfect vehicle. As well as the juxtaposition of faith and technology, which I’ve mentioned, in The Devil of Dublin there is a strongly defined contrast between the loving “normality” of a family, and those rather sweetly imperfect relationships, and the uglier side to the human character, which results in graphic violence and confusion and has darker, more ambiguous motives. As much as the story is an exposition of what the future might look like, and where that leaves society, it is also an exploration of humanity and character.
There is certainly a strong autobiographical element to the story, and I was left wondering where fantasy and reality crossed paths. Isn’t that the whole point of sci-fi? And I thought that was a very clever device, which challenged the reader to define the nature of fiction and the boundaries of imagination. It also added to the author’s surrealist, dystopian vision.
The book chopped at points between places, characters, and times, which had the effect of immersing the reader in the protagonist’s own chaotic state of mind. It was action-packed and fast paced, with plenty of twists to keep you on your toes, and paused rarely for exposition of descriptive narrative – much in the style of a modern thriller.
The characters are well developed, and the author uses the dialogue to great effect, with colloquialisms, multilingualism, and dialect, which created very effective sketches of who’s who and their different traits.
I very much enjoyed Haze: The Devil of Dublin. Although it was not in its final state when I read it, it was clever, complicated, and strangely fulfilling. I would definitely recommend it for fans of sci-fi and futuristic thrillers. This is an author to watch out for.