Summary and book reviews of Tethered by Amy Mackinnon

Tethered

A Novel

by Amy Mackinnon

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

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Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez

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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 ...

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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 Members Only (668 words).

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

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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 ...

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