Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Review : Darling Jim

Moerk, Christian. Darling Jim. Henry Holt, 2009.

[LibraryThing Early Reviewer book]

Darling Jim is, as the cover says, a story of "three sisters, three tales, and a secret, dark as night." Two sisters, Fiona and Roisin Walsh, and their Aunt Moira are found dead in the aunt's home, while another sister has simply vanished. A short time later Niall, a wayward postal worker, discovers Fiona's diary in the dead letter bin. He is immediately entranced by her story and sets out in search of the truth behind the brutal deaths.

Reading Fiona's diary reveals that the sisters' lives were forever changed by the appearance of Jim, an itinerant storyteller, who they rapidly realized harbored darks secrets beneath his charming facade. Niall finds himself risking his own life in order to unravel the mystery surrounding the sisters and "Darling Jim." As he follows where the story leads, learning the fate of the third sister, Aiofe, becomes the ultimate prize.

I first started reading Darling Jim a year or more ago and couldn't get beyond the prologue where the horrible state in which the bodies are found is described. I'm glad I finally made a second attempt. The book flawlessly flows between the narrative of Niall's journey and the diaries of Fiona and Roisin. All three have distinct voices which give their characters personality and depth.

The resolution is all you could hope for in this tragic story. When Niall's journey finally came to an end, all I could say was "wow." Darling Jim haunted my dreams when I set it down at night, and I've been thinking about the story ever since finishing it last night. If you haven't read Darling Jim, I highly recommend you run out and find it now. Christian Moerk, whose previous works are in Danish, is a gifted storyteller, and I'm glad he's brought his gift to America.

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