Book Review: Fractured, by Clar Ni Chonghaile

Publisher:  Legend Press    |    Publication date:  1st February 2016

Fractured My Review


Fractured is bold and intense, as hopeful as it is bleak. Every word from its heart is perfectly attuned to capture the shifting mood throughout, and it doesn’t miss a beat.

A story-hungry journalist, his estranged mother, and a Somali teenager. These individuals will endure many challenges presented by a country where the struggle for control takes centre stage, and the consequences are greater than they could ever imagine.

The opening scenes evoke a sense of hopelessness for Peter Maguire, a journalist held captive in a squalid cell by his merciless kidnappers. He is lost, both geographically and mentally, craving his past lives; one built with his girlfriend in France, the other in Liberia, which includes a son he has never seen.

Peter’s basic needs are left in the hands of a young and puzzling character. Abdi has experienced many unkind events in his sketchy life. There are not many options for this lad’s future, other than to face recruitment by a terrorist group wreaking havoc. His duties include bringing food to the prisoner, whose fate he knows to be sealed, but in quieter moment he also exchanges a few words, albeit briefly.

Peter’s current circumstances were more akin to a living tomb. He is waiting for the day the door would open and this half-life would finally be over. But until that happens he exists in hours of darkness and allows regret to consume him, as he would miss the opportunity to right his wrongs.

On his current path, Abdi realises his life is an infinite nothingness. The skinny, unsmiling lad is trying to ignore an invite to join the militants fighting for power while privately questioning the motives behind the kidnapping. His spontaneous decision to aid Peter’s escape arrives with little preparation. Without shoes, or a definitive direction, they flee into the night. As they are evading capture an odd, unspoken friendship ensues.

Peter’s mother, Nina, is restless waiting for news in Paris. Once a journalist herself, she is unable to sit and do nothing, so she jets off to Somalia hoping to make amends for a secret she held back in Peter’s youth. While she is there she will endeavour to chase away the ghosts of her past and try to contribute what ever skills she can collect along the way.

Told in the first person, the haunted trio offer their fragmented stories in turn by voicing their fears, their inner turmoil, and their experiences within this hostile environment, past and present. As they reflect on their lives it is clear they are all imprisoned in one way or another. Are they prepared to accept this fate, or can they leave their torment behind them?

That conclusion can only be reached by immersing yourself in the stunning passages, and often solitary sentences, that were so perfectly formed I personally stopped to re-read them. I’ll leave you with one such poignant moment that creates a powerful impact in a mere few words:

At first, her face didn’t change, and then it was as if someone had stuck a pin into her neck, letting the air hiss out. She shrank, her shoulders sagging. She stopped fingering the wooden bangle that Peter had brought her on his last trip to Africa. Her hands fell into her lap, like shot birds from the sky.

Rating: 5/5

(With thanks to Tom Chambers and Legend Press for arranging a paperback review copy of this title, as part of the Legend 100 Club.)

Legend 100 Club


(Courtesy of Legend Press)

Peter Maguire has been kidnapped in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu. He does not know where he is or what is going to happen to him. The journalist is filled with fear and, as the days go by, this dread of the unknown is shot through with remorse for the mistakes of his past.

Peter’s mother Nina comes to Somalia to wait for her son’s release. His plight forces her to relive another trauma – the fatal shooting in Liberia of Shaun Ridge, a young photographer she once loved, and Peter’s real father.

Abdi, a Somali teenager working with Peter’s captors strikes a tenuous friendship with the prisoner based on a shared feeling of captivity. He decides to help Peter escape. Together and they set off into the barren vastness of a land filled with danger.

Three people must journey into one of the world’s most dangerous places, the human mind, to answer the question: are we ever truly free?


 (Courtesy of Legend Press)

Clar Ni Chonghaile Author PicClar Ni Chonghaile is the author of Fractured, due February 2016.

Clár grew up in the West of Ireland, the eldest of seven children. She left Ireland aged 19 to work as a graduate trainee journalist at Reuters in London. Clár has worked as a journalist for over 20 years and has lived in Madrid, Paris, the Ivory Coast, Senegal and Kenya.

Whilst in Nairobi, she freelanced for the Guardian and travelled to Somalia to cover the African Union’s battle against al Shabaab and the plight of thousands of displaced people.

Clár returned to London in Summer 2014, where she lives with her husband and two daughters.



3 thoughts on “Book Review: Fractured, by Clar Ni Chonghaile

  1. Pingback: Clár Ní Chonghaile, Fractured | Sylvie's World is a Library

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