Twenty years ago Tara Martin went missing. She simply went out one day and never came home. Her boyfriend at the time was an obvious suspect. They had rowed before she disappeared. Her brother and parents have never gotten over it. They’ve moved on as best they can, Peter has a family of his own now, but Tara’s absence casts a long shadow.
A shadow that her sudden and unexplained reappearance only darkens. Where was she all this time?The story she tells her brother, that for her it has only been six months, and they she tried and tried but this was the earliest she could return, does not persuade anybody. There must be some other explanation.
This book is, in many ways, a perfect read for the Once Upon a Time challenge. It is all about fairy tales and folktales. Joyce starts each chapter with a quote about, or from a fairy tale, and references the case of Bridget Cleary. She was killed by her husband and father, among others, because they believed she was a changeling, the real Bridget having been taken by the fairies.
And Joyce does a wonderful job of mixing the fairy and the more mundane worlds. There are multiple narrators, sometimes it is Tara telling us what happened, other times her brother or her old boyfriend recount what happened to them. We also get the odd report from her psychiatrist as he attempts to uncover why she has lost her memory and created this outlandish tale.
It is also a very readable book. I just kept turning the pages, enjoying the read and wanting to find out more. It isn’t perfect however1 . A couple of times while reading I was slightly jolted out of the story by comments made in relation to women. At one stage, for example, one character says something to the effect that nature doesn’t allow two women to live under the same roof. Nothing major, and I do think it was very definitely the character and not Joyce himself who says and believes it, but at the same time I was a bit hmmm.
And I’m not one hundred per cent sure on the ending. Show Spoiler ▼
But all in all I think this is one of Joyce’s better books and I’d recommend it.
OUaT review site for links to more fantasy/fairy/folk stories.
what is? ↩