The New Policeman by Kate Thompson

Purchased last year at an antique shop, The New Policeman was an unusual find. According to The Guardian, “[there] is something hallucinatory, if not delirious, about this stylish, magical book.” Indeed, I turned the pages with a curious addiction to the characters, intrigued by the distinct childish fervor of Thompson’s storytelling genius.  The New Policeman is a refreshingly unique display of cultured, romance-free, fantasy-full young adult fiction.

I couldn’t possibly describe this book to you and capture its every nuance, so here is a caption from the sleeve:

There never seems to be enough time in Kinvara, or anywhere else in Ireland for that matter. When J.J.’s mother says what she really wants for her birthday is more time in her day, J.J. decides to find her some. But how can he find time for her, when he barely has enough time to keep up with school and his music? And where will he get time to find out if the shocking rumor is true- that his great-grandfather was a murderer?

It seems as though J.J.’s given himself an impossible task. But then a neighbor reveals a secret to him- there is a place where time stands still. J.J. realizes he’s the only person who can make the journey, but to do so he’ll have to vanish from his own life.

And when J.J. disappears from the village, enter the new policeman…

Gloriously full of Irish folklore, mythological characters, music and history, The New Policeman is not your typical YA novel. J.J. does not have a star-crossed romance with a goddess and, at fifteen years old, he’s not that interested in girls yet. When his friend suggests they try “clubbing” for the first time, neither of them know what to wear, or even where to go. His world is filled with family, friends, school, fiddling, and dancing.

For those of you who are intrigued by this review, there are three clues I would like to give you, to spice up your reading experience with a little extra magic.

1. Each chapter begins with sheet music, all of which can be applied to the fiddle, a flute, or guitar. If you are musically inclined and passionately Irish, this book is a goldmine for folklore and history. My first clue is the Irish ditty called “Dowd’s Number Nine,” which plays an important role in the story. Here’s what it sounds like!

2. When I was completing my undergrad, I took a course in Irish literature and mythology. I usually keep my textbooks from school and, although this course material was interesting, I didn’t know how these books would be useful in the future. Despite my uncertainty, I kept them all. To my surprise, my copy of the Oxford Dictionary of Celtic Mythology by James MacKillop was exceptionally helpful. Although the novel provides a Glossary with useful definitions, my dictionary provided much appreciated background and context.

3. My third clue is a reminder that The New Policeman is the first in a trilogy. I didn’t realize this until I read more about the author on Goodreads. The story doesn’t have to end!

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