3 out of 4 stars
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House of Eire by June Gillam is an average murder mystery that follows a journalist, Hillary, and her family from California as they seek information on the family heritage during a trip to Ireland. The book weaves a tale of impending corporate destruction and demonization of American developers as they try to monetize Irish heritage by way of a new theme park. The source of contention for the novel is the attempts by a local woman, Bridget, who is a sister-like figure to the protagonist, to have the developers include an honest, educational section to the park.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. The mystery aspect of the book played out in a highly predictable way. I found myself speaking out loud to the characters at times as they so blindly allowed things to happen amidst the knowledge of a murderer on the loose. I also felt that one murder in the book was completely without reason, and the reader never receives clarification on why it happened.
What I disliked most is that I felt that the story lacked emotion from characters during situations that, to any sane person, would be devastating and debilitating. We rarely saw characters expressing feelings that are concurrent with loss. I understand the need to keep the storyline moving, but to me, it felt like the losses were detached and unrelatable. For this reason, among others, I found it difficult to form an attachment to the main character, Hillary.
On a positive note, the book is very well-written and was a pleasure to read. The author did a great job of bringing authenticity to the part of the Irish speakers. Gillam also presented Irish history in a straightforward way that left me wanting to do more research to understand the Great Famine's truth.
I thoroughly enjoyed the relationship between Claire, the daughter, Sarah, the grandmotherly figure, and Hillary, the mother. I felt the dynamic of these three traveling together made me feel as if it could have been my family.
This book is a good, quick read for people interested in ghost stories and Irish heritage. I can't say that I would recommend it as a murder mystery as I never had any doubt about the villains and what would happen next. It created a compelling image of beauty and history that solidify my desire to travel there as someone who has wanted to visit Ireland for years.
House of Eire
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