TownHouse, €9.99

Guilt and the ghosts of the past feature strongly in Curtis Adler's first novel. Centring on brothers Denis and Michael O'Donnell and the rift that developed between them as their college days ended, Adler explores the guilt and pain in their lives as they prepare for a reunion party in their native Donegal.

What could have been a moving account of a family torn apart by mental illness never lives up to its potential. Adler deals with Michael spiralling into schizophrenia and Denis' guilt about not being there for his brother in a very unattached way, never delving very far into the brothers' emotions - unless we're to count the many expletives as conveyers of sentiment.

In fact, there is little feeling at all in the book. Denis' wife Julia sees the party as a chance for them to rekindle their relationship, but when the moment comes for them to do just that, Adler glosses over it without much attention. There is no portrayal of passion, or any other feeling, between them.

Michael's remembrance of his childhood and missing his brother is somewhat touching, but the lack of deeper emotion does not incline the reader to become very involved in the tale. Ultimately, 'The Party' is plodding, predictable and clichéd.

Katie Moten