Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax. The name begins at the lips and rolls down the throat in an elegant lamentation for the endangered birds with blue-black feathers and crimson beaks that congregate on the side of a cliff overlooking the North Atlantic.

A fragile population of Red-billed chough has found refuge on the Beara Peninsula, a lean claw of land off Ireland’s southwest coast. But the birds’ nesting ground shares space with a recently discovered store of copper. In a region where jobs are scarce and industries are failing, a new mining operation could slow the exodus of families and of hope.

Ireland’s withering economy and the plight of a little bird with an odd name are the last things on Annie Crowe’s mind as she rebuilds her life in Seattle. A recovering alcoholic, she has a marriage to repair and a career to salvage. When she is sent by a strategic communications firm to build a public campaign of support for a copper mine outside the village of Ballycaróg, it’s a final chance to get something right. 

When she arrives on the remote Beara peninsula, Annie soon learns that the mine would encroach on the nesting ground of the Red-billed chough, and many in the community are fiercely protective of this wild place. Among them is Daniel Savage, a local artist battling demons of his own, who has been recruited to help block the development.

And, inexplicably, they begin to hear the same voice—a strange, distant whisper of Gaelic, like sorrow blowing in the wind. Guided by ancient mythology and challenged by modern problems, Annie must confront the half-truths she has been sent to spread and the lies she has been telling herself. Most of all, she must open her heart to the healing power of this rugged land and its people.

THE CROWS OF BEARA was a finalist in the 2014 Siskiyou Prize for New Environmental Literature, judged by PEN/Faulkner author and Man Booker prize nominee Karen Joy Fowler. 


“As Johnson’s wounded, good-hearted characters sort inner truths along the mystical Irish coast, the personal decisions and missteps they make have consequences that reach around the world. A captivating tale of our yearning to belong and the importance of following this ancient call.” Kathryn Craft, award-winning author of The Far End of Happy and The Art of Falling

“Like Ireland itself, The Crows of Beara pulls at something deep inside the reader and won’t let go. In this captivating and thoughtful novel, the enchantment of Ireland heals two damaged souls and reminds all of us that no matter how dark life may be at times, there is always hope.” Kelli Estes, USA Today bestselling author of The Girl Who Wrote in Silk

“You don’t have to love rain or Guinness or wild, windswept coasts to be seduced by the delicate intermingling of Irish mythology, environmentalism, and love that are entangled at the heart of this novel; the juxtaposition with darker, harder truths of grief and addiction create a rich and reflective resonance. From France to Ireland, across centuries and oceans...where will this author take us next?” Jenny Williams, author of The Atlas of Forgotten Places

“Julie Christine Johnson swept me away from the first page. 'It is that nervous time between seasons, when chill winds skirr across faces upturned to the sun.' How can one stop reading after this? Johnson incorporates the beauty of the Beara Peninsula with such exquisite language that I wanted to fly off to Ireland immediately and hike the Beara Way. Annie Crowe is that memorable character—flawed but vulnerable—who fails in fits and starts but engages the reader with her desire to rediscover life. Johnson writes with her pulse on the heart of the people who fly off the page. When she introduces Daniel, aching and shamed, she does not fall into sentimentality. Opting for truth, she creates depth, even when reaching back into Gaelic mythology to prove her point. Johnson writes music on the page with words. She is a lush writer who does not turn away from the heart. ” Julie Maloney, poet, author, director of Women Reading Aloud

“In this important novel, Julie Christine Johnson brings together a remote peninsula in the west of Ireland with environmental issues that threaten a local community and its attachment to the landscape…Written in a lyrical voice with honesty and authority on the environment, addiction and recovery, and the magic of the Irish landscapeThe Crows of Beara is a passionate story of one woman’s recovery of her soul.” Christine Breen, author of Her Name Is Rose and O Come Ye Back to Ireland (with Niall Williams)

The Crows of Beara takes the age-old question of whether a book’s setting can be a character one step further by proving that it can be an emotion. Ireland is longing. Daniel is the lure. And Annie — well, she’s something special. A sumptuous book through and through.” Scott Wilbanks, award-winning author of The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster

“Haunting, hopeful, and transporting. You'll sink into this story of loss and redemption and be carried away from the very first page.” Kelly Simmons, international selling author of One More Day and The Fifth of July

“Stirring and poignant, The Crows of Beara is storytelling at its finest—a heady mix of the familiar and new discovery. In her newest book, Julie Christine Johnson carries you on an emotional journey that you won't want to end as you travel alongside her beautifully drawn characters from both the natural and the mystical realm. I loved this book.” Amy Impellizzeri, award-winning author of Lemongrass Hope and Secrets of Worry Dolls

A beautiful, powerful novel about the mystical songs of ancient Ireland, two damaged souls fighting for the hope of a second chance, the healing power of place, and the importance of listening to your heart. My heart ached for Annie and Daniel and cheered for their resilience. This is not a novel I will forget.” Barbara Claypole White, bestselling author of The Perfect Son and Echoes of Family

Pricing and Availability

The Crows of Beara (Ashland Creek Press, 2017) is available in hardcover and softcover from the following locations:

Download the official press kit for The Crows of Beara: THE CROWS OF BEARA PRESS KIT