*Warning, this book was tragic and sad. It was really dark and not very hopeful. Unless you normally handle psychological mysteries well, I wouldn’t suggest this.*
Tethered was not what I expected. It’s a first novel by Amy MacKinnon, and it’s very well-written. Frankly, though, the cover art is deceiving. This book is in no way a gothic, romantic tale. There is darkness, and light. There is a great struggle between good and evil. However, this is all within the context of a thriller, about a race between predator and prey. (I’m sorry, that last phrase made even me crack up a little. It’s a crime novel. Obviously people are chasing other people.)
This book has elements that are obvious, that are cliche in something of this genre. There’s a broken woman/girl, who must come to terms with horrors in her own childhood in order to reach out to a little girl who needs her help. So there’s internal struggle. (Think Cammie McGovern’s Eye Contact and the struggle to understand the little boy’s autism.) This broken woman/girl sometimes doubts her sanity as she struggles to communicate about this particular crime that hits close to home. (Think Abu Jaber’s Origin, and the struggle with memory.) There’s the standard good cop, who wants to save broken woman/girl, who has secret pain of his very own deep down inside. (Think French’s In The Woods and everyone’s favorite mistreated Sam.) Of course, in due time, good cop sleeps with broken woman/girl, which brings yet another layer of complexity and emotion to the broken woman/girl’s processes, which is dealt with in the same sweeping blow as the story’s climax and resolution. (Think all of the above novels. Seriously. I’m telling you it’s not original.)
And yet. There’s a sweetness and sincerity to MacKinnon’s characters I wouldn’t have expected in a first novel. The grief of each of the characters is so real, so true. The awkwardness of the reaching out, each character’s attempts to comfort another seemed very authentic and charming. I really didn’t remember that this was a first novel until I had completely finished and sat down in order to type this up. Never once do I doubt MacKinnon’s characters, or her storyline. It is flawless. So I forgave a little cliche because she made me cry. I am eager to see if she can follow this up with another as heart-striking.