The Watch House

Bernie McGill is the author of two novels and one short story collection.
She has written audio scripts for heritage projects and stage scripts for theatre. Her new short story collection, This Train is For, will be published by No Alibis Press in 2022.

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Cover 'The Watch House'‘Beautiful and lyrical, tender and fierce; one of those rare novels, with the power to break you clean in two.’ Guinevere Glasfurd, author of the Costa shortlisted The Words in My Hand.

‘McGill writes about life, love and telegraphy with a poet’s clarity’ The Sunday Times

‘McGill proves once again she is a masterful storyteller . . . historical fiction at its absolute best’ The Lady

‘A novel to haunt you’ Sunday Mirror

‘A lyrical, wonderfully atmospheric novel’ Sunday Express

‘Totally absorbing and full of unexpected twists’ Sunday Business Post

‘Endlessly intriguing and exhilarating’ Dublin Review of Books

‘An evocative novel that’s brimming with suspense… [it] reels you in and keeps a grip on you until the very end’ The Incubator

The Watch House, set on Rathlin Island at the turn of the 20th century, [is] awash in old rituals and impending transformations, in loyalties and enmities and all manner of local witchery’ Patricia Craig, Irish Times Books of the Year

‘The book is a masterclass in how to marry narrative and setting.’ David Park, Irish Times

‘A mesmerising, clever and surprisingly brutal novel’ Belfast Telegraph

‘[McGill’s] assured style and eye for detail make The Watch House a pleasure to read, a fast-paced tale that rarely flags, with a complex and beguiling heroine at the helm’ Irish Times

‘Hard to put down, this atmospheric book will stay with you long after the final heart-rending denouement, setting McGill firmly into the panoply of modern Irish writers’ Irish Independent

‘There are messages in the air, a closeness like the kind that comes before a storm, a listening, a holding of breath.’ It is summer, 1898, on the small Irish island of Rathlin and the place is alive with gossip. A pair of strangers has arrived from the mainland, laden with mysterious radio equipment, and the islanders are full of dread. For native Nuala Byrne, abandoned by her family for the New World and trapped by a prudent marriage to the island’s ageing tailor, the prospects for adventure are bleak. But when she is sent to cook for Marconi’s men and is enlisted, by the Italian engineer Gabriel, as an apprentice operator, she becomes enthralled by the world of knowledge that he brings from beyond her own narrow horizons. As Nuala’s friendship with Gabriel deepens, she realises that her deal with the tailor was a bargain she should never have struck.

The Watch House is a gripping story about the power of words to connect us, and the power of suspicion to drive us apart.

Read the first chapter here.

The Watch House on Amazon.