Book Review: ‘Nothing On Earth’ by Conor O’Callaghan

An August evening. A young girl bangs on a door and a man answers. She is covered in blue writing and she is terrified. Her father is missing. The man lets her in, he knows her, he knows about her family. He calls the police and as they wait to find out what will happen to her, she tells him her story.

Nothing On Earth is the haunting story of this young girl. She has moved back to the place her mother grew up. She lives with her parents and her aunt in the showrooms of an abandoned housing estate. They spend their days watching TV and sunbathing in the heat, and their nights listening to strange noises coming from the house.

There’s not much that can be said about this book, partly because it would give too much away, and partly because there’s not much to say. Not a lot happens throughout the book in terms of plot. And most of the questions posed are left unanswered, for the reader to come to their own conclusion. Some might find that frustrating, but I love a book that leaves you with questions. It means you’re still thinking about the book long after you’ve finished reading it. 

Nothing on Earth is told from the perspective of the man who answers the door. It’s his version of what the girl tells him that we hear, which means that you’re never sure if he’s telling the whole truth. You question his reliability, especially once you find out what he is (which I won’t give away, you’ll just have to read it.) 

But you also start to wonder if the girl is telling the truth, if, in fact, she is the unreliable one. This book is remarkable at making you rethink your own preconceptions. Are you only wary of what the man is telling you because of what he does? It’s one of the things that’s left to the reader to figure out themselves, and it definitely makes you think.

Conor O’ Callaghan’s writing is beautiful. It’s clear his poetry background is important to his fiction with his evocative descriptions and unnerving prose. He manages to write a poignant, yet eerie story that is strangely enjoyable even though you’re never entirely sure what’s going on. This is definitely a book that you have to pay attention to as you read. But as long as you don’t mind not having all the answers by the end then it’s thoroughly enjoyable. 

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