TETHERED by Amy MacKinnon: a book review

Previously Posted on BookEndBabes (Sept. 21, 2010)

Have you ever been afraid of a book? I don’t mean books about monsters or psychopathic killers… I mean have you ever been afraid of the emotional path a book is certain to lead you down?

Amy MacKinnon’s debut novel, TETHERED, took me a long time to read. I’d read a chapter and set it down. Days. Weeks passed. I’d pick it up again and read another chapter. Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t that the book didn’t grab me. I thought about the story often in those in between times. But it made me . . . nervous.

The protagonist, mortician Clara Marsh, is entangled in a mystery about the murder of Precious Doe, an unidentified child whom she prepared for burial a few years earlier. Clara herself is a troubled soul, and I worried over her like a mother. Was it because her early years were marked by death? Was it because the innocence of her youth was betrayed by the living? Was it because she disavowed God yet spent so much time on His doorstep? I can’t say, but ultimately I had to know where Clara and the story of Precious Doe were going.

As MacKinnon’s characters wrestled with the memories of souls lost, their own guilt, and a community’s blame, I had several plausible, clever theories about where the book would take me.

I was almost right.

If you haven’t picked up TETHERED, I encourage you to do so. It is a beautifully written mystery about love and death that will twist your hair and wring your fingers then leave you breathing a long, slow sigh of relief.

So what’s your next trick, Ms. MacKinnon?

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