Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Julie's Review: Darling Jim

Summary: Like the itinerant Irish storyteller at the crux of this riveting novel, Danish-born author Moerk mixes mythology, Arthurian legend, fairy tales, noir and horror in his American debut. When reclusive Moira Hegarty and her two nieces, Fiona and Róisín Walsh, are found dead in Moira's secluded home in a Dublin suburb, evidence suggests the sisters were imprisoned for months by their aunt, along with a third person, perhaps Róisín's twin sister. The young women left behind two diaries, one of which a postal clerk finds. Three years before, they fell under the spell of Jim Quick, a séanachai (or bard), whose tales of wolves and kings gave him rock star status in the sleepy town of Castletownbere. Only the Walsh sisters appear to have seen beyond the charm of darling Jim, whose presence coincides with several women's murders. Moerk tightly meshes each separate plot strand—the murders, the diaries and Quick's tales—into an enthralling story that never falters. ~amazon.com

I don't normally read horror or goth books but Jason at Henry Holt was lovely enough to pass Darling Jim onto me and I'm glad he did. The book might be labeled as the aforementioned but it's really about family, love and survival. This book was riveting from the first page and it definitely didn't slow down. Mr. Moerk weaves quite an excellent story from beginning to end. He even wraps it up with a somewhat neat bow, but leaves you wondering just enough.

Since it's a mystery/thriller I can't tell you too much without ruining the story. You can't help but be entranced by the Walsh sisters even if we only get to know them from their own point of view via their diaries. I did feel that they were honest enough to tell you their faults along with the good. We are first introduced to Fiona and we get her perspective on how Jim walked into their lives and messed it up for good. That's the thing about bad boys... they look harmless enough but they really do a number on you. Jim is quite the charmer and manages to infiltrate himself into the Walsh family, by first getting to Fiona. It's quite sick how a man can tear a family apart. Even if Aunt Moira is off kilter even to begin with.

Niall picks up the 2nd part of the story and his adventure into the story is just as interesting as the story itself. He is our bridge from the past to the present. He follows Fiona's story and ends up with more than he bargains for in doing so. He's a perfect catalyst for finding out the story within the story because he's a storyteller himself, albeit via graphic novels.

The climax of the story is wonderful and satisfying. I will say that I did figure out one of the twists but it wasn't the major twist so it didn't take away from the story.

Mr. Moerk is quite the séanachai himself. His ability to weave many different complex stories and to tie them up together was amazing. Most authors will leave you hanging on the little details but not in Darling Jim.

I will definitely be reading more of his work as they are released in the US.

For more on Christian and for an additional glimpse into one of the characters from Darling Jim click here.

Final Take: 4.75/5


Jenn April 28, 2009 at 10:27 PM  

Wow, this one sounds really neat, Julie.

kalea_kane May 3, 2009 at 12:21 AM  

Great review. This actually looks right up my alley! :)

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