Gang warfare in the west of Ireland: Wild Houses, by Colin Barrett, reviewed

Until now, Colin Barrett has made his name as an artist of the short story. Both his debut collection, Young Skins (2014) and Homesickness (2022) won him acclaim for their depiction of rural Ireland. But his tales stretch beyond the constraints of their size, and his dispossessed drinkers, small-time crooks and depressed teenagers seem too large and real to have their stories end in a matter of pages. Barrett’s first novel, Wild Houses, is, then, a delight, with a wider space for his talent to spread and for his acutely observed characters to linger. In the first few pages he gives us a man whose tattoos appear like ‘the pages