As a disclaimer, I beta-read The Least of These. I have seen the story develop over the course of a few months, and am delighted to bring you a review today!
In The Least of These, Zachary vividly brings post-Cromwell Ireland to life, showing us both the human cost of hatred and the human capacity to love long after we have closed ourselves off from the world. The story centers on Molly, a woman who has long since withdrawn from the world. She remains a force to be reckoned with in the community, but she is without hope or joy in her own life. As a living remnant of the time before Cromwell, Molly is both respected out of habit, and held outcast by the new ruling class. In almost every way, Molly is different from the others that surround her – but her difference has long since become more habit than conviction. The story is set, for the most part, over the course of a single day. We follow Molly’s life, from the unexpected events that spur her habitual difference, to the human hatred and cruelty that shatters the remnants of her faith.
While the story is vivid and well within the realm of possibility, I would have liked to have more of a window into the hatred and fear displayed by Molly’s adversaries. However, the story speaks eloquently to Molly’s numbness, despair, and eventual hope. Who has never felt despairing, as she did? The Least of These is a fine read – and if you’re not in the throes of NaNoWriMo madness, I highly recommend that you check it out!