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.