The Aran Islands are described in my guidebook to Ireland as isolated, rugged and beautiful. In Plenty of Harm in God by Dana Bath (DC Books), they are the setting for a lot of human drama as well. The story is told by several narrators, but it belongs to Clare, twenty years old, pregnant, and on her way to the Islands to follow through on a suicide pact between herself and her Asian-Irish cousin Gillian. Clare was born in Newfoundland to a teen mom (who spoke to angels and claimed that Clare’s birth was an immaculate conception), but the pivotal moments of her life have taken place here in Inisheer. Life is brutal in this small community. Gillian, for example, is addicted to heroin and in love with the ethereal Teffia, who has slept with everyone on the island, male and female, including her own father. Some recent novels have touched on the subject of incest but none with such poignancy and credibility. It is Bath’s ability to dissect these bruised lives with originality and compassion, along with her stark poetic touch and a never-predictable plot, that make this book such a fulfilling read.