Title: Darling Jim: A Novel
Author: Christian Moerk
Release Date: March 31, 2009
Publisher: Henry Holt
Rating: 4 out of 5
The mail carrier in Malahide, just north of Dublin, Ireland, wasn’t prepared for what he saw. He hadn’t seen Moira, the occupant of the house he was delivering mail to, in days, perhaps weeks, and decided he should just take a quick peek through the mail slot in order to make sure everything was all right. However, what he saw was most definitely not all right. In this tale of gruesome murder, Christian Moerk recounts the story of the Walsh sisters, horrible victims of their Aunt Moira.
Darling Jim caught my eye when it was first published as a book I really wanted to read. The description from the publisher made it seem like a mesmerizing and captivating work of fiction. What I didn’t expect, though, was how strange it would be.
This is not your average mystery – Moerk draws on fairy tales and the power of storytelling in order to tell this tale. I’m not sure it would have worked if the setting had been somewhere less atmospheric and ancient than Ireland, but it flows very well the way it’s written. It’s intriguing and leaves the reader guessing at every turn. I’m not sure I can highlight the weirdness enough, though – every time I think about it, it just gets stranger.
The beginning of the book is both shocking and gruesome. It’s also very sad, as you get to know the characters in the book, to have the knowledge that they’re dead, and that they died in a horrible way. Moerk does a great job making the characters appeal to the reader. The Walsh sisters are lively, beautiful women, while Jim is dark and twisted (though I must admit, I didn’t understand what was so appealing about him). While I would have loved more character development, the nature of the novel (told mostly through diary entries) precludes that..
Darling Jim was a quick read and an enthralling gothic novel that I didn’t want to put down. It was definitely weird, but in a great way. It was unique and unlike anything I’ve read in recent memory. If you’re a fan of gothic novels, and the fairy tale mix sounds appealing, I definitely recommend this dark novel.