Review: All the Bad Apples – Smoky with Old Magic




Title: All the Bad Apples
Author: Moïra Fowley-Doyle
Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books
Release Date: August 1st, 2019 (UK); August 27th (NA)
Genre(s): YA Contemporary, Magical Realism, Historical Fiction
Subjects and Themes: Family, Women’s Rights, LGBTQIAP+ (lesbian mc, queer side characters)
Page Count: 319 (hardback)

Rating: 8.5/10

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CW: Rape, homophobia, and a myriad of casual atrocities against women (historical and modern)

When Deena’s wild older sister Mandy goes missing, presumed dead, Deena refuses to believe it’s true. Especially when letters start arriving–letters from Mandy–which proclaim that their family’s blighted history is not just bad luck or bad decisions but a curse, handed down to women from generation to generation. Mandy’s gone to find the root of the curse before it’s too late for Deena. But is the curse even real? And is Mandy still alive? Deena’s desperate, cross-country search for her beloved sister–guided only by the notes that mysteriously appear at each destination, leading her to former Magdalene laundry sites and more–is a love letter to women and a heartbreaking cathartic journey.



“This novel was, in part, fueled by rage”

It’ll be a cold day in hell when I don’t finish a blog tour book at the last minute, it seems, so this is gonna be shorter and less effusive than I want it to be. But don’t let my procrastination take away the fact that I loved this book.

All the Bad Apples checks all my boxes: a road trip to uncover family secrets, a spotlight on women, ancient magic bleeding into the modern, and the use of past tense in a contemporary(ish) YA. It’s also the closest thing to Kali Wallace’s The Memory Trees I’ve read in the past two years, and I can’t tell you how giddy that makes me.

Let’s get this out of the way first: the prose alone makes me want to read everything Fowley-Doyle has written and will ever write in the future (and I’m kicking myself that she hasn’t been on my radar until now). It’s quiet, addicting, and sensual, and it winds through you like a drug. Add to that the atmosphere of it all–curses and storms and the scent of apples moving through the air–and you have a recipe for pure decadence.

The story is contemporary interspersed with magical realism, and the latter are appropriately magical and chilling, but what amazes me is that even the contemporary bits feel textured and rich. So very old and loaded with everything–magic, history, the lives of their ancestors reaching forward to touch them. The book understands that there are places in this world that share a space with the past. Places where the past is so looming and loud that you almost feel it as a physical presence. You move from one rundown location to the next throughout the story, all of them spilling with history, and the author makes sure that you feel the weight of each one. It’s beautifully done.

At the core of it, though, is a poignant story of a teenage girl’s attempt to break a cycle of bigotry and secrets and abuse that left me touched and seething in each equal measure.

“You tell your story and the story of your family. You speak your truth. You shatter the stigma. You hold your head up to the world and speak so that everyone else who was ever like you can recognize themselves. Can see that they aren’t alone. Can see how the past will only keep repeating itself as long as we’re kept powerless by our silence.”

I do wish the second half of the book had been a bit longer, though, and that the events leading up to the end were more drawn out. The follow through on the side characters (minus Deena’s sisters) was also kind of disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, they’re all very interesting and had the foundation to be complex characters, and the romance between Deena and Cale (“short-haired punky witch girl,” in Deena’s words) was developing nicely, but their stories get neglected in the last 1/3 of the book, which is a massive shame because I feel like they had so much more to offer.

But those are small complaints.

Ultimately, All the Bad Apples is a book that deserve a place on your shelf. It’s got the atmosphere of a fable and the anger of the best feminist stories that exist in the world, and it’ll leave you with the lingering taste of apples in your mouth.





Moïra Fowley-Doyle is half-French, half-Irish and made of equal parts feminism, whimsy and Doc Martens. She lives in Dublin where she writes magic realism, reads tarot cards and raises witch babies. Moïra’s first novel, The Accident Season, was shortlisted for the 2015 Waterstones Children’s Book Prize & the North East Teen Book Awards, nominated for the Carnegie Medal & won the inaugural School Library Association of Ireland Great Reads Award. It received two starred reviews & sold in ten territories. Her second novel, Spellbook of the Lost and Found, was published in summer 2017, received a starred review from School Library Journal and was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards.


Giveaway (UK/Ireland)

You can win 1 of 3 copies of All the Bad Apples HERE.


Tour Schedule

Check out all the other stops on this tour HERE.

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Jess @ Jessticulates August 23, 2019 - 6:12 am

I keep seeing this book everywhere and your review has made me even more excited to check it out! I love books that focus on multiple generations of women within one family, so this is definitely one I’ll be checking out. The cover’s gorgeous, too!

Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky August 28, 2019 - 1:09 pm

Yay, I’m glad to hear that! And oh man, If you like multigen stories with women, then you definitely need to check out Kali Wallace’s The Memory Trees. It’s super atmospheric and queer and mixes mystery with magical realism. 😀

Tammy August 23, 2019 - 6:27 am

I’m dying to read this! Every review I’ve read has been very positive. And I have to say I love the UK edition cover more than the US 😁

Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky August 28, 2019 - 1:11 pm

I hope you get a chance to pick it up! I like the simplicity of the US cover and how haunting it looks, but hands down, the UK version is the one I’d rather have on my shelf. 😀

@lynnsbooks August 23, 2019 - 6:30 am

This sounds like something I would love – how did I miss this.
I’ve entered the giveaway though – thanks for that.
Lynn 😀

Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky August 28, 2019 - 1:18 pm

I haven’t even *heard* of the author until this book, and now I’m utterly hooked on her writing. Good luck!!

evelynreads1 August 23, 2019 - 9:35 am

I recently read this, and really really enjoyed it!


Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky August 28, 2019 - 1:51 pm

Ahhh I’m so glad to hear that!!! I’m guessing you’ll be posting a review for it? If so, I can’t wait to read it!

evelynreads1 August 28, 2019 - 11:23 pm

Yes it is coming later this week!!

bookbeachbunny August 23, 2019 - 10:27 am

Glad you enjoyed it! I just read the authors Spellbook of the Lost and Found earlier this summer and loved that one 🙂

Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky August 29, 2019 - 9:44 pm

Ooooh I’m gonna try to squeeze that one in next month. 😀

Kaya @ afictionalbookworm August 23, 2019 - 2:02 pm

I’m glad you enjoyed, lovely review!💜

Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky August 29, 2019 - 9:43 pm

Thanks, Kaya! <3

Book Addiction Tag – Meeghan Reads August 23, 2019 - 5:56 pm

[…] | Ally | Destiny | Shanah | Kathy | Camilla | Evelyn | […]

whatrebeccasread August 24, 2019 - 2:11 am

This book looks great, fingers crossed for the giveaway! 🤞🏻

Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky August 28, 2019 - 12:13 pm

It was really great. The best of luck with the giveaway!!

waytoofantasy August 25, 2019 - 2:04 pm

Oh, this definitely sounds like a very ‘Kathy’ type of book, from what I’ve seen. 🙂 Glad you enjoyed this one!


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