The Herbalist

The Herbalist


'The most entertaining yet substantial historical novel since Joseph O'Connor's Star of the Sea' Irish Times

When a neglected teenager - Emily - becomes infatuated by a mysterious medicine man who turns up in the local market square she finds herself competing for his attention with the other women of her town. But naïve as she seems, Emily is the first to discover the stranger's dark side, and when she does she holds his fate - and the fate of the women of her community - in her hands ...

The Herbalist is the electrifying first novel from Hennessy XO New Irish Writing Award winner, Niamh Boyce. It is a deeply moving and viscerally powerful novel about the lives of women in 1930s Ireland - an unforgettable story of love, shame, hypocrisy and courage.


'Niamh Boyce's compelling female characters push against the rigid social parameters of 1930s Ireland, yearning for the light of the outside world, which comes in the shape of a stranger trading in herbs, cures, complications and danger' Dermot Bolger

'An elegant morality tale about the inescapable strictures of women's lives ... Her publisher describes her as "a dazzling new voice". I cannot disagree' Sunday Times

'A vividly imagined tale of love, lust and longing ... a compelling read with a cathartic ending that deserves a wide readership. It remains authentic and moving to the end' Sunday Business Post

'Boyce's subject matter may be dark, and she treats it with the seriousness it deserves, but she writes with a lightness of touch not often seen in the genre ... just as the readers of The Herbalist share the women's fear as we read, we share their wonder and excitement as well ... hugely impressive and wonderfully assured' Irish Times

'There's a lot going on that is slowly revealed and the writing is beautiful ... a serious new literary talent' TV3

'Comparisons to Edna O'Brien and Pat McCabe are more than justified. That said, Boyce has a unique voice and sensibility, one that's entirely her own' Image Magazine

'A powerful plot full of betrayal, morality and love ... Not only is this a book that will keep you captivated, it will remain with you long after you've read the last words and closed the cover' Country Living

'She has a real lightness of touch and it's a wonderfully told story' Marian Finucane, RTE

'A riveting story that electrifies and dazzles'

About the author

Niamh Boyce

Niamh Boyce was named Newcomer of the Year at the 2013 Irish Book Awards for The Herbalist, her first novel ('The most entertaining yet substantial historical novel since Joseph O'Connor's Star of the Sea' Irish Times) which was also a Number One bestseller. She won the 2012 Hennesssy XO New Irish Writer Of The Year Award and Emerging Poetry Award for her poem 'Kitty'. Her short fiction has been widely published in anthologies. Her Kind is her second novel.
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