The Rules of Revelation is a novel about secrets, the past, and the future, as Lisa McInerney delivers the third in her series of books about Cork and one teenage drug dealer now turned musician. Ryan Cusack is back in Ireland, looking to create an album with his new band, but there’s still someone in Cork looking for him, wanting him to keep quiet about the past. However, that’s not so easy when Georgie is also back in Cork, trying to make Ryan’s drug dealing past common knowledge, and another old secret relating to Ryan puts pressure on both his band and his ex-girlfriend. Still, there’s one old lady trying to look out for Ryan.
I wasn’t sure whether to read The Rules of Revelation, as I enjoyed the previous two books in the series, but I read them in the wrong order (I happened to read The Blood Miracles without knowing it was a sequel) and found it hard to keep track of the plot in the first one. I couldn’t remember the other two and wasn’t sure how it would go, but I’m glad I did pick this one up, as I found it enjoyable and much easier to get into the world of the characters even when I’d forgotten them than I expected.
The other two felt notable in being more up to date small time gangster stories, and The Rules of Revelation also feels up to date, but less of a gangster narrative this time. Instead, it’s a lot more about secrets and scandal, sex and gender, and how to reinvent yourself. It wasn’t too hard to distinguish between the different narrators and it worked quite well to bring the stories together, though Georgie’s felt like it lost steam partway through. The stakes never felt particularly high, but that suited the fact it isn’t a book about gangsters, but about people trying to forge new paths even with their pasts on display.
I did find the book a bit too long, as it does meander and give a lot about what the characters are thinking, but it gripped me more than I expected as I thought I was going to spend most it trying to remember who the characters are. The start had to do quite a lot of ‘here’s the major things you need to know about this person’ seeing as they weren’t being introduced from scratch, but I appreciated being given the information even if it was a bit slow.
As someone who likes gangster narratives, but also likes books that address actual modern issues and aren’t stuck with a dated mindset, I appreciated The Rules of Revelation for being up to date and looking more at the treatment of female characters, sex, trauma, class, and gender that makes up the fallout from the previous two books. I found it readable without remembering the previous two books, but other people might prefer to feel like they knew the full histories of the characters and ensure they’ve read the other two books first.