Title: All the Bad Apples
Author: Moira Fowley-Doyle
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.
Moira Fowley-Doyle is one of my very favorite authors; I adored The Accident Season and I’ve been looking forward to All the Bad Apples ever since. I’ve had to return it to the library a few times before I could actually read it, but as soon as I was finished with Daughters Unto Devils, I dove in. This book is a tangled, sharp mystery that goes back and forth in time, telling the story of a family fractured by loss, rage, and tragic expectations. This book might be my favorite in Fowley-Doyle’s entire body of work; I loved the way that it took on the patriarchy and dismantled it, piece by piece and lie by lie. Lyrical, suspenseful, compassionate and tender, I loved the story of the cursed Rys family, and their complicated, secretive family tree. This book asks: How well do you know your loved ones and your family history? What secrets and skeletons hide in the closets and the shadows?
Deena Rys, the family’s youngest daughter, is still reeling from the death of her older sister, Mandy, who the family suspects committed suicide. On top of that, everyone at her traditional Catholic Irish school knows that she’s gay. Forced to hide the truth about herself from her peers and her own family, something inside Deena tells her that Amanda is still alive. Her instincts are further proven correct when she finds a mysterious note from her sister, telling her that she has gone to the end of the world to break a curse that has haunted their family for generations. Deena is soon led on a dangerous journey through the past and present, seeking the truth that her family and her hometown have hidden for years. Will she discover the truth, or let the past stay buried?
I really, really enjoyed this book! It might be my favorite in all of Fowley-Doyle’s work. The prose was lyrical, beautiful, and as brutal as the oceans surrounding Ireland. I was immediately captivated by Deena’s voice, stalwart and strong and refusing to take any flack for being the person she was meant to be. But the real focus of this novel was long buried secrets, hidden across time. This book was such a great call-out for toxic masculinity and rape culture, and I loved every painful moment of it. The pacing was a little staggered at first, but once I got the hang of it, I loved the way that the book went back and forth in time. The curse of the Rys family was also unique; one of my favorite traits of Fowley-Doyle is her ability to play with language and the sense of surrealism you get in her stories. I adored the way she brought traditional Irish mythology—fey, ancient curses, banshees—into the narrative. But my very favorite part was uncovering all the secrets of the Rys family, buried so deeply that they were almost invisible. I also loved the way that Fowley-Doyle spoke of the Catholic church, pious and kind on the outside but rotten to the core. I loved every character in this book, but Deena, Rachel, Mandy, Finn, Ida and Cale were among my favorites. And that ending! I loved it so much! The secrets of the Rys family were so numerous, at times I had to go back and reread some parts. Nonetheless, Moira Fowley-Doyle’s third novel might just be my favorite of them all! The bottom line: Shocking, dark, surprising and as tart and sweet as ripe apples, I loved All the Bad Apples! Next on deck: The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee!