Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Through The Barricades by Denise Deegan
Release Date: 8th December 2016
Genres:  Historical Fiction

She was willing to sacrifice everything for her country. He was willing to sacrifice everything for her.

‘Make a difference in the world,’ are the last words Maggie Gilligan’s father ever says to her. They form a legacy that she carries in her heart, years later when, at the age of fifteen, she tries to better the lives of Dublin’s largely forgotten poor. 

‘Don’t go getting distracted, now,’ is what Daniel Healy’s father says to him after seeing him talking to the same Maggie Gilligan. Daniel is more than distracted. He is intrigued. Never has he met anyone as dismissive, argumentative… as downright infuriating. 

A dare from Maggie is all it takes. Daniel volunteers at a food kitchen. There, his eyes are opened to the plight of the poor. It is 1913 and Dublin’s striking workers have been locked out of their jobs. Their families are going hungry. Daniel and Maggie do what they can. Soon, however, Maggie realises that the only way to make a difference is to take up arms. 

The story of Maggie and Daniel is one of friendship, love, war and revolution, of two people who are prepared to sacrifice their lives: Maggie for her country, Daniel for Maggie. Their mutual sacrifices put them on opposite sides of a revolution. Can their love survive? 


Maggie woke coughing. It was dark but there was something other than darkness in the air, something that climbed into her mouth, scratched at her throat and stole her breath. It made her eyes sting and tear. And it made her heart stall. Flames burst through the doorway like dragon breath. Maggie tried to scream but more coughs came, one after the other, after the other. She backed up in the bed, eyes wide, as the blaze began to engulf the room. She thought of her family, asleep in their beds. She had to waken them – with something other than her voice.
She hurried from her bed, peering through flame-lit smoke in search of her jug and washbasin. Reaching them, she flung water in the direction of the fire and began to slam enamel against enamel, fast and loud. She had to back away as flames lapped and roared and licked at her. But she kept on slamming.
Her arms grew tired. Her breath began to fail her. And she felt the heavy pull of sleep. She might have given in had she been alone in the house. But there was her father. There was her mother. There was Tom. And there was David. She could not give up.
Then like a miracle of black shadow, her father burst through the flames, his head tossing and turning. His frenzied gaze met hers.
She began to cry with relief but relief changed to guilt as she realised that she had only drawn him further into the fire.
‘No! You were meant to take the stairs. You were meant to-’
‘It’s all right, Maggie Mae. It’s all right,’ he said, hurrying to her. He scooped her up and held her tight as he carried her away from a heat that burned without touching.
She felt cool air on her back as he opened the window. Wind rushed in, blowing the drapes aside. The flames roared louder, rose higher. But her father only looked out at the night sky. And down.
‘Missus O’Neill! I’m dropping Maggie down to you!’ he called. ‘Catch her now, mind. Catch my little girl.’ Then he looked deep into Maggie’s eyes. ‘Missus O’Neill is down below with her arms out for you. I’m going to drop you down to her.’
‘Will she catch you too?’
But he just smiled and kissed her forehead. ‘Make a difference in the world, Maggie.’
The sadness in his eyes filled her with a new terror. ‘But you’re coming too?’
He smiled once more. ‘I am, as soon as I get the others out. Now keep your eyes on mine, Maggie Mae. Keep your eyes on mine all the way down.’


Denise Deegan certainly has a way with words and was able to grab me right from the onset with opening prologue (see above). From then on in after I was totally hooked on this book. The story is of Maggie Mae Gilligan, a feisty young woman caught up in the turmoil of Ireland at the start of the 20th Century. Determined to make a difference just like her father wanted, Maggie wants to fight for her country. She wants the British out of Ireland but as a young woman feels powerless to help. Then she meets Daniel who is totally and utterly besotted by her and everything about her from the wonderful way she throws a punch right down to her beautiful eyebrows! 

Daniel's love soon sees him wanting to be with Maggie all the time, even going as far as volunteering at a soup kitchen feeding the poor. While Daniel disagrees with Maggie's desire to take up arms against the British, he would quite gladly follow her to the gates of hell. Despite coming from completely different backgrounds, Daniel and Maggie's friendship and love soon blossoms.

However, Maggie's plans are soon disrupted by the onset of the First World War and Daniel feels that he needs to join the British Army and do his duty. Maggie is horrified but cannot deny her feelings for him and despite everything, the love he and Maggie share cannot be quelled by the onset of war both at home and abroad or by any political views. Maggie's letters to Daniel when he is fighting on the front are what keeps him fighting, keeps him alive. Daniel dreams of his future with Maggie and that is the only thing that keeps him sane.

Set against the back-drop of the Easter Rising in Ireland and the atrocities of trench warfare in places such as Gallipoli, Denise Deegan paints a very vivid picture of the terrible sufferings, the violence and the death that our characters must endure. Some of the scenes around Gallipoli had be gasping with shock. For those lovers of historical fiction with a romantic element Through The Barricades is one book you will not be able to put down. Its gritty, its romantic and its shocking. I loved it! Its a stark reminder that violence solves nothing and yet humanity learns nothing from its mistakes. Love is the only thing really worth fighting for.

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Denise Deegan is author of several best-selling novels for adults and teens. She has been a nurse, a china restorer, a pharmaceutical sales rep, a public relations officer, an entrepreneur and a college lecturer. Her most difficult job was checkout girl, though ultimately this ‘experience’ did inspire a short story…
Denise’s writing for Young Adults includes The Butterfly Novels: And By The Way, And For Your Information and And Actually.
Denise writes women’s fiction as Aimee Alexander including Pause to RewindThe Accidental Life of Greg Millar and All We Have Lost.
Most recently, Denise has written an historical novel of love and revolution, Through the Barricades.
Denise is represented by the East West Literary Agency and Barry Krost Management. She is a member of the SCBWI.

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