tanya (encinitas ca)
From the start of this book I was drawn in by Mackinnon's vivid language and her ability to make it easy to feel a part of Clara's world.... and then the disturbing undertow of the story, the crimes committed.... were not really what I expected of this novel. There were scenes in which I was easily brought to tears, and then moments when I felt hope with the direction the story was going. Mackinnon addresses real-life issues and hurts. This is not a happy, uplifting story, if that's the direction your book club is leaning towards. But an intriguing read, nonetheless, it has more softened curves and reminded me of Mystic River, by Dennis Lehane.
Judy (Carmel IN)
Tethered--to the reading of this book!
Exquisitely written to capture you immediately! Putting the book down was a torture of sorts. MacKinnon so vividly describes Clara, the protagonist, that when she writes about Clara's "familiar sense of otherness" readers may actually feel the pain. The darkness of the book seems appropriate for Clara's occupation and life. The book gives readers a peak into a world infrequently visited (funeral homes) and an occupation seldom dreamed of with a description that is actually comforting at times.
My only criticism is how the ending came together--at times predictable, other times confusing and for me lacking the qualities of the fabulously unique read in the earlier parts of the book. Would definitely love to read more from this author!
Lynda (Clifton Heights PA)
Love, Beauty, Salvation from a very unlikely setting.
Ms. MacKinnon's narrator and main character, Clara, is most comfortable with the corpses that she lovingly prepares for burial. She has no friends, other than the undertaker with whom she works - and her flowers, which seem to blossom miraculously for Clara.
Being immersed in Clara's thoughts is learning how an extremely depressed and lonely young woman thinks. Yet, a glimmer of hope lies beneath the Gothic setting and compelled this reader to devour this mystery.
The characters are real and complete. The settings are vivid, though mostly seen through shadows and mist. The reader wants to help Clara solve this dark mystery and bloom as a fulfilled woman, like her garden.
Josephine (Goshen CT)
An intriguing first book
I can't remember reading a mystery where the protagonist was an undertaker, but who better to be involved in murder, and Clara makes a very interesting character. The book is quite dark, and some of the scenes might put off a squeamish reader. With that caveat, I would recommend it for someone looking for a mystery a bit outside the ordinary.
Brenda (Farmington MN)
This book had me hooked from the second page, I had to force myself not to read the ending (something I often do). I'm not a fan of a story that jumps around and at times I got lost for a paragraph or two when the author became a temporary poet (this is why it's a 4). Amy's writing style offers many good discussion points for book clubs and the easy reading style works well if interruptions are part of daily life.
Annie (Dallas TX)
I looked forward to reading this book each night. MacKinnon fashioned characters you cared about, and a page-turning plot. I especially liked the asides about the flowers and what each represents. This would make a good discussion book, both because of the ambiguity surrounding Trecie and because the subjects of undertaking and trichotillomania are so exotic. This book reminded me of Origin by Diana Abu-Jaber. Both books are narrated by fragile protagonists haunted by their pasts; both are written with the same surreal atmosphere; and both also provide a romance interest in the form of a stalwart detective.
Nancy (Hobe Sound FL)
While Mackinnon's book may be called a mystery , the real story here is Clara Marsh, the main character. She's flawed and damaged, making her that much more real, so that the reader takes to her right away. Mackinnon does such a beautiful job with Clara's character that the reader can identify with her at every juncture. The other characters are also very well drawn and the prose just sings. The tone is dark and gloomy most of the time, adding to the suspense which keeps the reader turning pages.
Tethered would be a good book for a book group, and I'd also recommend it for people who read mystery novels or who just want something new and different. Overall -- good book.