Monday, June 8, 2009

Book Review: Darling Jim by Christian Moerk

Three sisters - Fiona, Róisín and Aoife – and their aunt all fall under the spell of “Darling” Jim, a storyteller in the Irish seanchaí tradition who speaks of wolves and predatory men. The result of this enchantment is that at the start of the novel, most of the main characters are dead and the rest are missing. It is up to mailman Niall, who finds Fiona’s diary in his dead letter bin, to find out what really happened.

The foreboding but fascinating fairy tale Jim tells over successive nights (which we read about in Fiona’s diary) permeates this mystery story. Is there something paranormal afoot or is Jim simply a really nasty human specimen? Especially impressive is the very authentic Irish atmosphere – amazing, really, when you consider Author Moerk is Danish and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

As far as the characters, we get a good sense of Fiona and Róisín by reading their diaries, but Aoife, the aunt and even Jim remain slippery, their motivations somewhat understandable but still quite puzzling. Unfortunately, the mailmain, Niall, seems more like a device to hold the narrative together than a fully formed, relatable character.

Things may wrap up a bit too neatly for such a haunting premise, but the story sticks with you. I’d recommend it to readers of “darker” novels such as John Connelly’s THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS or Michel Faber’s UNDER THE SKIN.

Thanks to the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program for providing me with an ARC of DARLING JIM. You can visit the author at http://www.christianmoerk.com/ and buy the book in hardcover.

19 comments:

Jen said...

I have to admit, Im really curious about this one ^_^

bermudaonion said...

I'm looking forward to reading this book. Sounds good to me, even if things are wrapped up too neatly.

robin_titan said...

Oooooh VERY interesting. I'm gonna definitely want to pick this up.

thekoolaidmom said...

I won a copy of this on a blog contest (I forget where, much to my chagrin) and I'm looking forward to reading it... eventually.

Ah, to be free to just do nothing but sit and read all day!

PopinFresh said...

This one looks good and while it may wrap up too neatly, I'm still curious about how the whole story plays out.

~ Popin

Kelly said...

Another reader friend of mine was gushing about this one, so I was planning to check it out. But after your review, I don't think this one is for me. Thanks for the great review that helped me keep my TBR list in check! :)

Kristen M. said...

This is one that I keep forgetting to add to my list. I'm going to do it right now!

Nicole said...

Good job Lenore. I am as intrigued and in the dark as ever. :-) Of course I really want to read it and have a billion other things I am in the midst of reading right now.

Diane said...

I've been wondering about this book; thanks for the post.

Lenore said...

Glad you approve Nicole, ha!

Kate said...

Superb review Lenore. This sounds like a great read, I love things with Irish connections.

carolsnotebook said...

I've seen this one a couple of places, and it's definitely caught my interest.

kim said...

I hadn't heard of this book so I'm so glad you reviewed. Will have to add to my pile of "to be read"
I love your reviews :)

vvb32 reads said...

this does sound good. i loved faber's under the skin - that still sticks with me. i can imagine the female creature thingy as i type. book of lost things is in my tbr pile so i'll have to check it out before darling jim is released. thanks for the review.

Ladytink_534 said...

I've read books that I hated but the story still sticks with me over all that time. Sometimes even better than ones I loved lol!

Zibilee said...

I read this a few months ago and thought it was a really interesting story. I agree that the ending wrapped up a bit too neatly and quickly, but overall I enjoyed the quirkiness of the book.

Elizabeth said...

That is a very cool premise.

Joanne said...

Great review! This sounds like something I would enjoy - even though neat endings bother me a bit, sometimes the story is worth it ... better than a bad ending :)

Lisa said...

This one was one of the books I was really hoping to get. Sounds like a very interesting premise.