Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Twisted River by Siobhán MacDonald

Limerick couple Kate and Mannix need a break. Their son is being bullied at school, Mannix's brother is having trouble with the local mob, and even their daughter is feeling the strain. But months of unemployment have drained their coffers making a vacation seem like a dream that will never come true. Until Kate decides to give house swapping a try and Hazel and Oscar Harvey, with their gorgeous Manhattan apartment, offer up the perfect opportunity. 

Hazel is from Limerick and hasn't been back for years. Her family is suffering its own issues at the moment and could use a trip themselves, so swapping with the O'Neils seems like the perfect plan. But her homecoming turns out to be quite different than she'd expected. And when she starts to see a stranger lurking around the O'Neil house, she has to wonder if it's her own imagination. 

Ugh, last week turned into a mess. I was sick as a dog, planted on the couch, and almost completely out of it for two days. It was miserable. But I should point out that almost - almost completely out it. The one bright spot of the whole thing was Siobhán MacDonald's debut, which somehow managed to grabbed me amidst the malaise and unwell-being. I'm not kidding. Even when nothing else could possibly hold my attention for longer than two seconds, Twisted River wormed its way in and commandeered the little bit of attention and concentration I could manage!

Any book junkie knows this is a big deal. Sick time generally means, to our brains, free reading time. And the disappointment of being literally too sick to read adds insult to injury. So when a book can get you, even at your worst, it's huge!

I have to admit that part of the appeal here was the house swapping. I'm alone amongst my group of peers in my discomfort at the idea of things like Air B&B. I've used it, and it was fine, but I still find it weird! That plus recent stories about some of the... odd happenings around these rentals made the synopsis of Twisted River overwhelmingly appealing.

And the promise of the book is delivered! Though not quite in the way you might think.

Twisted River is absolutely dripping with a sense of dread and suspicion. There's the bullying in Limerick, Mannix's brother's issues, and Mannix's own behavior. Meanwhile in Manhattan Hazel is being abused terribly and her husband is recovering from some legal trouble that's not outlined completely until further into the story. Chapters alternate between the four adults, creating a round robin story that reveals new pertinent facts with each new chapter. It's a tale of suspicion and appearances and we, the readers, are faced with exactly how deceiving those two things can be throughout the progression of the story.

MacDonald excels at building a plot that's complex and misleading. The tenet that there is more than one side to every story is one that weighs heavily here. Our perception as readers begins in one inevitable place and changes almost with each new chapter, making Twisted River a truly twisted and surprising read. And I loved every minute of it!

Rating: 4/5

1 comment:

Kay said...

So sorry you've been so ill, Becky, but I'm glad to know that this book was so good you were able to enjoy it through the sickness. :-)

I saw something about TWISTED RIVER yesterday in fact and thought it sounded like something I'd like. After reading your review, I suspect I would love it. Thanks for giving us a glimpse of it!