First Fiction Friday: The Stones of Burren Bay

Blending ancient Celtic spiritualism with Manitoulin Island wilds, Emily De Angelis’s debut YA novel The Stones of Burren Bay (Latitude 46 Publishing) follows a girl left adrift after her beloved grandmother passes away, and a century-old spirit that helps her navigate through her tragedy. Read on to learn more about this compelling new book.

The cover of The Stones of Burren Bay by Emily de Angelis. The cover illustration depicts a house at the top of a rugged, stony cliffside, the rain coming in diagonal slashes.


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First Fiction Friday
The cover of The Stones of Burren Bay by Emily de Angelis.


The Stones of Burren Bay (Latitude 46 Publishing, 2024)


Emily De Angelis comes from a long line of visual artists, musicians, and storytellers. She has developed her craft through her involvement with a variety of writing organizations and through independent study, workshops, conferences, and courses, including a year in the Humber School for Writers. She has also received an Ontario Arts Council grant for Northern Works in Progress. Emily has short stories, as well as western and Japanese-style poetry published in various anthologies and periodicals. She was guest curator and poet for an exhibit entitled The Ekphrasis of Florence: Poetry in Japanese Form Inspired by the work of Florence Carlyle at the Woodstock Art Gallery (2023-2024). The Stones of Burren Bay is her debut young adult novel. Emily winters in Woodstock, Ontario and spends summers at her cottage on Manitoulin Island.

Why you need to read this now:

Youth need to see themselves as protagonists in their own stories, where artistic expression is fundamental to their personhood and self-identity. This is especially relevant in a world full of social and political dysfunction, global conflict and fear. The Stones of Burren Bay is a YA magical realism novel with threads of ancient Celtic spiritualism woven through. It is a story of the loss and rediscovery of artistic identity and family relationships, exploring the importance of creative identity and practice.

Protagonist Norie Lynch has always felt as if she was on the outside looking in. Her family is a mess. Her self-absorbed father has lots of grandiose dreams and not much follow-through. Her mother works constantly and their relationship is distant and fragile. Norie has few real friends, but there are two things that she can count on: her beloved grandmother Johanna and her art. When Grandma Johanna dies, Norie turns to art, cherishing the antique artist’s tool box that her grandmother gave her. She avidly pursues her art studies at school and through her local art gallery. But when the box is lost in a horrible car accident that kills her father and injures her emotionally fragile mother, Norie experiences unbearable guilt and grief and shuns the artistic part of herself she feels is responsible for the accident. She denies herself the one effective way she has for dealing with the grief and guilt that plagues her.

Norie’s journey to self-discovery starts after the accident when she and her mother are forced to rely on the kindness of an old friend, who lives in a small hamlet on Manitoulin Island where she manages a tearoom and lighthouse museum. In this hallowed place, where the veil between the past and the present is thin, Norie encounters a century-old spirit named Oonagh. Also a fledgling artist, Oonagh has had her own hardships and tragedies throughout her life and death, which are woven through Norie’s story with a unique structure of two timelines—Norie’s contemporary timeline moving forward and Oonagh’s timeline, moving backwards from her death to her family’s last days in Ireland before immigrating to Canada.

This compelling and emotional journey takes the reader through the tragedies of Norie’s and Oonagh’s lives, demonstrating that strength and fortitude, as well as empathy and understanding of others, can come from and through artistic expression. As Norie finds her way back to art, the grief is still real, but she is able to see her mother without the filter of old resentments and anger. Only then can their relationship be salvaged and rebuilt. The Stones of Burren Bay, a hopeful story at its core, gives readers a means to cope and problem solve—a proactive, healthy way to engage with their environments.

X + Y:

The Stones of Burren Bay equals the magical realism embedded in two timelines of Laura Ruby’s Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All plus the struggle through grief and the healing power of artistic practice in Akemi Dawn Bowman’s  Summer Bird Blue.

The Stones of Burren Bay equals Laura Ruby’s Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All plus  Akemi Dawn Bowman’s  Summer Bird Blue.

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The Stones of Burren Bay is available now on All Lit Up or at your fave independent bookstore.

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