Summary and book reviews of Tethered by Amy Mackinnon

Tethered

A Novel

by Amy Mackinnon

Tethered by Amy Mackinnon X
Tethered by Amy Mackinnon
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Aug 2008, 272 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2009, 272 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Clara Marsh is an undertaker who doesn’t believe in God. Suddenly, her carefully structured life shifts when she discovers a neglected girl desperate for a friend. And when Detective Sullivan starts questioning her again about a body she prepared three years ago, Clara must choose between the existence of loneliness and the perils of binding one’s life to another.

Clara Marsh is an undertaker who doesn’t believe in God. She spends her solitary life among the dead, preparing their last baths and bidding them farewell with a bouquet from her own garden. Her carefully structured life shifts when she discovers a neglected little girl, Trecie, playing in the funeral parlor, desperate for a friend.

It changes even more when Detective Mike Sullivan starts questioning her again about a body she prepared three years ago, an unidentified girl found murdered in a nearby strip of woods. Unclaimed by family, the community christened her Precious Doe. When Clara and Mike learn Trecie may be involved with the same people who killed Precious Doe, Clara must choose between the stead-fast existence of loneliness and the perils of binding one’s life to another.

CHAPTER ONE

I plunge my thumb between the folds of the incision, then hook my forefinger deep into her neck. Unlike most of the bloodlines, which offer perfunctory resistance, the carotid artery doesn’t surrender itself willingly. Tethered between the heart and head, the sinewy tube is often weighted with years of plaque, thickening its resolve to stay. More so now that rigor mortis has settled deep within the old woman.

Each time I tug on that vessel, I think of my mother. I imagine other daughters are reminded of their dead parents whenever they hear the refrain from an old song, or feel the heft of a treasured bedtime story resting on their own child’s nightstand. My trigger is the transformation of a battered corpse back to someone familiar. I was too young when she died to remember her scent, and I have no memory of her voice. But her wake - like the accident - plays in my head like a movie reel, some frames taut and crisp, others brittle, fluttery things. Though ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
  • award image

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Tethered is the first book in recent memory that I absolutely could not read fast enough to see how it comes out .... I still can't say whether Tethered should be categorized as a mystery or a literary novel but what I do know is that with her stupendous prose and intricate characterizations MacKinnon has penned a winner.   (Reviewed by Donna Chavez).

Full Review (668 words).

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A more resourceful writer would have painted a less monochromatic world and offered her heroine some hope for change.

Publishers Weekly
Some affecting, understated prose only partially redeems the flat story line.

Booklist
[A] haunting, gracefully rendered debut.

Author Blurb Jon Clinch, author of Finn
In Tethered, Amy MacKinnon starts with an unlikely narrator and an unlikely setting and delivers up that most unlikely (and sought-after) of results: a deeply engaging and memorable book. Brava.

Author Blurb Kristy Kiernan, author of Catching Genius and Matters of Faith
Amy MacKinnon is a rarity among debut authors. Not only does she possess the raw talent, she already knows how to use it. Tethered is as good as it gets: a haunting plot, an exquisitely flawed heroine, and sophisticated, powerful prose that deftly explores the ties that bind us all—to each other, and to the complex worlds around us. A brilliant debut.

Author Blurb Amanda Eyre Ward, author of Forgive Me
Haunting, thrilling, and beautifully drawn, Tethered is a novel full of heart. Love, and the search for love, fuels MacKinnon’s cast of characters. Settle somewhere comfortable: you’ll be reading all night.

Reader Reviews

s.e.f.king

tethered
I started this book two days ago, and the housework is building up. I've come on line in the hope of finding that the Author has published another book as mesmerizing as this cold, sometimes cruel, spiritually uplifting journey. The story is so good...   Read More

Dakayla

I Love Amy MacKinnon!
Amy Mackinnon rules!!! This book is amazing and deep. Amy is smart,funny, and very caring person!This book is the best book ever written!!!! If I had a say what to read between a well experienced writer or Amy MacKinnon, I would choose this! Amy I ...   Read More

Jeanne

Tethered
This book grabbed me from the very beginning. All of the characters were real, filled with their own unique hopes and flaws. Every part of Clara's life is written thoroughly and believably. It is the characters that stand out in this book, more ...   Read More

Patricia

Tethered
One of the most amazing books I have ever read. Not a true mystery in the ordinary sense of the experience but a book I read from cover to cover in one sitting. The writing is so vivid and intense that it is difficult not to be emotionally moved by ...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Post-Life Environmentalism
Clara has such a detached attitude toward the more clinical aspects of her job as undertaker – removing organs, sewing the mouth shut, applying makeup – that her description of these tasks seems no different than a fishmonger discussing the gutting and filleting of salmon. And MacKinnon includes enough subtle hints as to the danger and toxicity of the chemicals used in cadaver preparation that one might pause before considering disposition of one's – or a loved one's -- earthly remains. Additionally, there is the casket to think about and the fact that there may be more bodies to bury in Clara's community cemetery than that ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Tethered, try these:

  • Murder at the 42nd Street Library jacket

    Murder at the 42nd Street Library

    by Con Lehane

    Published 2016

    About this book

    More books by this author

    Murder at the 42nd Street Library opens with a murder in a second floor office of the iconic, beaux-arts flagship of the New York Public Library. Ray Ambler, the curator of the library's crime fiction collection, joins forces with NYPD homicide detective Mike Cosgrove in hopes of bringing a murderer to justice.

  • Origin jacket

    Origin

    by Diana Abu-Jaber

    Published 2008

    About this book

    More books by this author

    A fingerprint expert's investigation of a series of crib deaths leads her back to the mystery of her own childhood.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: That Time I Loved You
    That Time I Loved You
    by Carianne Leung
    Carrianne Leung was a Toronto Book Award finalist for That Time I Loved You as well as for her debut...
  • Book Jacket: The Pianist from Syria
    The Pianist from Syria
    by Aeham Ahmad
    Aeham Ahmad became famous as the face of Syrian suffering when a photo of him playing piano in the ...
  • Book Jacket: The Smiling Man
    The Smiling Man
    by Joseph Knox
    Joseph Knox's latest turns on a simple premise: an unidentified and unidentifiable murdered man is ...
  • Book Jacket: The Heavens
    The Heavens
    by Sandra Newman
    I've been a big fan of Sandra Newman's writing ever since reading her 2014 novel The Country of Ice ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    American Princess
    by Stephanie Marie Thornton

    Rated 4.9 stars by BookBrowse members - one of the highest scores of all time!
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    A People's History of Heaven
    by Mathangi Subramanian

    A story of love and friendship, and fighting for the places we love.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club
Book Jacket
Girls Burn Brighter
by Shobha Rao

An extraordinary and heart-rending tale of two girls with all the odds against them.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Book Club Giveaway!
Win The Summer Country

Win up to 12 copies to share with friends or your book club!

A sweeping epic of lost love, lies, jealousy, and rebellion set in colonial Barbados.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

D T T! Full S A!

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.