This book was aptly titled! It was dark indeed, at times oppressively so. I had a hard time sticking with it and probably would have abandoned it entirely except for the fact that it was set in Ireland - one of my favorite places to go in a book. In this case most of the action took place in a rural Irish village sometime in the middle of the 20th century (I think!)and centered around the plight of a young boy and the decisions he was trying to make about his future. It was especially complicated for him because of his troubling relationship with his widowed,abusive father and his conflicted feelings about whether or not to become a priest or continue his schooling in pursuit of a university scholarship. What kept me reading had less to do with the plot or the characters or the setting. Rather, it was McGahern's interesting way of switching the narrative voice from the third person to the second person to the first person. I'm guessing it had to do with mood and the thematic elements that were interwoven throughout the novel, however I have to admit I wasn't interested enough to pay close enough attention in order to get the full effect.