Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Last Will of Moira Leahy by Therese Walsh

This book is certainly outside of the genre I usually read. Granted, there are some mystical elements in The Last Will of Moira Leahy, but I don't think I would classify it as a fantasy novel. The description on the hardcover edition is long, so I'll only post part of the shorter version from Publisher's Weekly:
Walsh's satisfying novel follows Maeve Leahy, a brilliant young professor, in her pursuit for answers about her family and herself. When she impulsively bids on a keris—an ancient Javanese dagger—at an auction house, Maeve's orderly life spins out of control. Anonymous notes appear on her office door, with provocative hints about the origins of the keris, unleashing memories of Maeve's onetime musical ambitions and the loss of her twin, Moira. When a note urges Maeve to visit Rome, her best friend, Kit, persuades her to go. There she finds Noel, her rakish love interest, who is trying to solve his own family's mysteries. He helps Maeve navigate the bewildering questions and characters in Rome while making his romantic ambitions clear, much to Maeve's indignation and secret fascination. Walsh ably shifts between Maeve's current quest and flashbacks showing the twins as children, revealing little by little the story behind Maeve's grief.
One of my favorite books, and indeed one of the few I have read outside of the fantasy genre, is The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. This book was recommended to me by Amazon and LibraryThing due to my interest in The Thirteenth Tale, and so I put it on my wishlist.

I'm so glad I did. The novel started out sort of slow and confusing, but I always have trouble beginning a book. After the flashbacks of the twins' life together though, I started to get into the story a little more. About halfway through, I couldn't put it down. This book reads somewhat like a mystery, because you really have absolutely no idea what's going on or what happened between the twins probably 3/4 of the way through. The author slowly drops breadcrumbs until you're sure you know what's going on.

When the twist finally came though, and the entire history was revealed, I must admit I thought I had everything figured out. I definitely did not.

While this book is easy to read and I didn't get lost in big words and pretentious descriptions, there is an exactness to the writing. It was very obvious that I was not reading a silly or fluffy book. If more authors wrote stories like Therese Walsh (and Diane Setterfield) I might branch out into non-fantasy novels more often.

Bottom Line
Overall Rating: 4.5 / 5 
Buy or Try? Buy
More? Stand-alone
Plot: 4.5 / 5
Setting: 4.5 / 5
Characters: 4.5 / 5
Pace: Middlin'
Descriptiveness: Poetry
Fantasy factor: Magical Realism link


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