A Carlow woman who took up writing in her late 30s has published her debut novel to rave reviews. Kathleen Murray’s first novel, The Deadwood Encore, was launched earlier this week in Visual, Carlow.

A brilliantly inventive and witty novel about legacy and birth right from Kathleen Murray, Ireland’s brightest new literary voice.

Frank Walsh is the seventh son of a seventh son, so by now should have inherited his late father’s legendary healing power, but instead he’s stuck on ringworm and warts. Frank idles about his small town in Carlow, labouring in the local sawmill, healing the occasional ailment, most evenings spent at home with his eccentric mother, who is convinced she can commune with the dead.

He already feels adrift when his twin, Bernie, confides something to Frank that casts a shadow over how he perceives his place in the world… and then he discovers that his father had been keeping secrets of his own.

And so Frank turns to an unlikely source for guidance, which propels him on a quest of self-discovery, picking up clues about his father’s past along the way, hoping they will shed light on his rightful place in the family.

The Deadwood Encore is a vivid portrait of a close-knit family, and a small-town Irish community bound together by tradition and superstition. But above all it is a story about belief – in the unknowable, the intangible, and in the self.