Published by Henry Holt and Co.
Rating: 4.5 stars
Two sisters, Fiona and Róisín Walsh, are found dead along with their aunt Moira in her secluded home. There is disturbing evidence that Moira had been keeping the girls prisoners in her home, chained down, without proper nourishment. Upon the discovery of Fiona's diary by a postal worker named Niall, readers get an inside glimpse into their final days and learn how their demise is linked to 'Darling Jim', a charming storyteller who travels from town to town winning the hearts of all the local women. The story takes some unexpected turns as Niall becomes personally invested in the tales of these women and ensures that their story is never forgotten.
For a story that begins with the main characters' deaths, there was a surprising amount of intrigue and suspense throughout the book. This is one of those books that starts off by providing what appears to be all of the facts, and then slowly reveals more and more until the complete story is understood. That is what I particularly enjoyed about this book. Just when I thought I had a grasp on each of the characters, they said and did things that surprised me and made me question all that I had learned.
Every time I tried to put down the book I couldn't because I needed to read further to see how everything unfolded. It's hard to classify exactly what genre this book is because it's a combination of thriller, crime and it does have some elements of horror, though I found it to be more creepy than scary. The interesting combination of legend and fairy tale weaved throughout the novel enhanced my appreciation of the book and made it even more mysterious.
Though there can be no 'happy' ending in a story that begins with many murders, I think Christian Moerk did a wonderful job of tying up loose ends and leaving readers satisfied.
Darling Jim is filled with much passion and intrigue and will keep you reading on with anticipation until the very end. I look forward to seeing what Christian Moerk comes up with next!
* Edit: Girls Just Reading (a great blog, by the way) are giving away 5 copies of Darling Jim - enter HERE by May 3rd for your chance to win this great book!
BIG THANKS to Tara and Henry Holt for my review copy.