2 out of 4 stars
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I have to say that I was a bit disappointed with House of Eire by June Gillam. The novel contains all the elements of a great mystery novel, ghosts, weird dolls delivered to a woman's door to scare her, and a beautiful country filled with history. Somehow these elements seem to never come together. Bridgette is a woman who is involved in a project to build a huge amusement park and she wants a portion of the amusement park to reflect local history. This history contains a lot of strife and trials that the Irish people went through. This campaign to give local history a prominent place at the park has caused uneasiness with the developers and Bridgette has been subtly threatened. Hillary is Bridget's friend and she and her husband have brought their daughter and an elderly friend along to tour Ireland, meet up with Bridgette to learn about their personal ancestry and to enjoy a vacation. Before they can meet, Bridgette is murdered and Hillary has left an envelope containing information about her ancestry and the history of the local people.
The novel focuses on Hillary and Hillary's daughter, Claire, their infatuation with ghost stories of the Irish castles, and the trip to reach Bridgette. There were several reasons why I just could not connect with this novel. Every chapter that entailed the trip was accented in a way to frame the idea of Hillary wanting to find out about her own ancestry. In the end, this becomes a moot point because her friend is murdered but over half the novel is spent trying to get you to connect emotionally to this idea.
Another unrealistic aspect of the novel entails the reactions of the other characters to the threats that Bridgette is receiving. Hillary's husband is a detective and before they even leave for their trip they meet up with a friend of theirs who tells them a story about the developer of the theme park. The friend, Roger, wanted to write a biography on this man and he sent him a package in the mail meant as a threat. They even talk about this developer being part of some kind of mob. For this not to set off warning bells In the detective's mind and cause a reaction, left me feeling that an opportunity to add suspense to the plot was missed. There were several examples of this. Hillary never says anything or acts like she needs to hurry to get to her friend which left me baffled. If you think someone is being threatened, you want to do something.
Hillary and her husband and her daughter have brought along a friend, Sarah. During the course of the novel, she is murdered. Sarah or Gran, as they call her lives with them and is portrayed as being like family. Here again, the emotional impact of the situation was not well portrayed by the writer. The murders are treated so cavalierly as if two people haven't just been murdered and their own lives are not at stake. The culprits were never really brought to justice, and the orchestrator of the carnage is given a lame excuse for why he has had two people murdered. There seem to be a lot of plot holes.
One positive aspect of the novel is that it was very well edited. I found no mistakes and no misspellings. There were a few bright spots in the novel. One of those was when Bridgette's boyfriend Seamus asked her to marry him. There was some good writing such as the dialogue between characters, but just too inconsistencies.
I have awarded the novel two out of four stars. There was no profanity, one or two very mild, suggested, sexual scenes which makes this suitable for any age reader. A little mystery, a little romance, and a few too many convenient situations make this novel one I don't highly recommend.
House of Eire
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