Aoife Ni Coillte is the eldest daughter of an Irish Indentured family, living in a poor village near the estate of Tanglewood Manor. In love with George Oliver Williams, the eldest son of the wealthy Williams family to whom the manor belongs, Aoife is rejected as an unsuitable match in favour of the heiress, Dido Dubois. Pride and bigotry drive her to unkindness towards Dido’s younger sister, Bellouise, until one fateful evening, when she is jointly punished by the African ancestral spirit, Belloko, and Pouq, the Irish phantom faerie. Transformed into the monstrous Steel Donkey, Aoife is condemned to haunt and terrorise the area, until she can learn to love that which she hates.
Ten years later, the Williams family hires John Jack, a discerning and kind freed slave to help maintain the family property. An unlikely bond takes root between Aoife and John, followed by rumours of Steel Donkey sightings spreading like bushfire across the hills.
Tanglewood is a historical Gothic romance novella, written by Knicky L. Abbott and published by Luna Press. A lush and intense story, set in postcolonial Barbados, and which draws inspiration from the Steel Donkey myth; flawed characters who are part of a doomed love story.
Aoiffe is the eldest daughter of an Irish Indentured family, part of the poorest classes in Barbados; she's in love with George, son of the wealthy Williams family, owners of the Tanglewood estate. However, with her origins, she's soon deemed as unsuitable to marry him, in favour of the heiress, Dido Dubouis; moved by anger, pride and bigotry, Aoiffe ends taking her revenge on Dido's sister, until she's punished by Belloko, African ancestral spirit, and Pouq, an Irish faerie, transforming her into the Steel Donkey, a monstrous presence condemned to terrorize the place until she learns to love those she hated.
Ten years later, John Jack is hired by the Williams, a freed slave, to take care of the property; between him and Aoiffe a bond will appear. Their unlikely relationship will be accompanied by multiple rumours about Steel Donkey sightings.
Abbott explores the consequences of the slavery abolishment in Barbados, and how it led to conflicts between the indentured people (Irish/Indian origins, brought to be servants) and the freed slave (most of them with African origins); two of the poorest classes on the island, confronted purely by bigotry and hate. Isolation of the indentured, and the lack of education and poverty they suffered, was transformed into hate directed towards those freed slaves.
Tanglewood is beautifully written, as Abbott's prose is perfect for this lush story, creating a compelling plot which becomes intense extremely fast; half poetic at points, exploring the origins of the Steel Donkey folklore. A novella that shows an immense writing talent, and that puts Knicky L. Abbott as a name to watch.
Knicky L. Abbott
Knicky L. Abbott is a Literatures in English graduate, writer of speculative fiction, and wild and lonesome soul. She resides on the island of Barbados with her daughter and their dog Calcifer, where she enjoys a life centred around fitness and nature spirituality. A connoisseur of wonder, of beauty and delight, her favourite things are books, bibelots, de ja vu, faeries, fine art, animal rights, telling stories, and dark, dreamy things. Her first novella, Tanglewood, was acquired on the 15th March, 2023 by Luna Press Publishing, and will be released in 2024.