Irish Gothic is alive and well. 4/5 stars.
Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton and NetGalley for giving me an e-copy of this book.
A Keeper will be published on 4th October 2018.
The blurb: The mystery of Elizabeth Keane’s father is one that has never been solved by the people of Buncarragh – not for lack of speculation.
Her mother Patricia had been assumed a spinster, until she began dating a mysterious man from out of town, and within months had left Buncarragh and had married. Less than two years later, Patricia was back, with a new baby in her arms, but no new husband by her side and unbendingly silent about her recent past. A secret she would take with her to her grave.
Now, as Elizabeth returns to the village after her mother’s funeral, bringing with her her own regrets and wounds, she finds a thin pile of ribbon-bound letters at the back of a wardrobe that may at last hold the key to her past.
I must apologise if this review comes across as muddled. I’m trying incredibly hard to avoid spoilers as I think you’ll get the most from this book if you go in knowing as little as possible, as I did.
This story is a fascinating mix of a present day thread which seems all too familiar – someone coming home to deal with the estate of a dead relative and unearthing family secrets – and a past thread which made me think “WHAT?!” more than once. I have to be vague to avoid spoiling it, but this past part of the narrative is brilliant, moving flawlessly from a sweet, if slightly unusual romance, to something more sinister but not altogether unexpected (the seeds of doubt are sown subtly, but they’re there).
The balance between past and present sections is a fine one. At times the present events provide a welcome break from the past sections, while at other times I found myself racing through the present sections to get back to the “juicier” events of the past!
If you’re someone who doesn’t enjoy darker reads, don’t worry, you’ll be ok with this. It gets dark without going into full psychological thriller territory. The narrative voice curbs the grimness: there’s a lightness of touch even in the blackest moments of the tale which stops it becoming depressing or macabre.
And I’m sorry if I’m underselling the present day section of the story. There’s plenty of drama there too with the main character having to struggle with her son going missing for his own shocking reasons.
For those of you who enjoy audio books, I’m sure that would be a good option with this one. I head great things about Norton’s narration of his first book – Holding. That said, his voice is so clear in his books, you may be able to imagine him reading it anyway.
Overall: a wonderful balance of the familiar and the unexpected told by a deft narrative voice.