by Emma Donoghue is the story of three medieval monks driven to an inhospitable outpost in the middle of the sea. Set in seventh-century Ireland, the novel begins when the pious Brother Artt dreams of building an outpost to escape the sins of the world and devote himself to God. Judgmental and unyielding, Artt is an unpromising leader of an expedition, but he takes two other monks with him: Cormac, a worldly old man with a checkered past, and Trian, a young, awkward monk with a secret. This unlikely trinity lands on a remote, rocky island off the coast of Ireland, which Donoghue has based on a real place, Skellig Michael. Here, each man must use his wits and individual talent to survive. Cormac becomes a skilled fisherman, while Trian finds purpose in coaxing plants out of the harsh soil. But, as Artt’s religious fervor grows and his demands clash with the priorities of their survival, tensions threaten to tear the three men apart. While the setting of the novel is remote in both geography and in time, Donoghue creates a compelling human drama.