Amy MacKinnon - Tethered (3 stars)

Amy MacKinnon - Tethered



The most remarkable aspect of Tethered, Amy MacKinnon’s debut novel about a mortician drawn into the hunt for a missing child, is that the central character, Clara, an isolated, damaged woman, who devotes herself to beautifying the dead and cultivating her secret garden, is so difficult to physically picture. Yet her fragile emotional state is sensually ever-present, often overpoweringly so, in the smells, tactile encounters and unspoken, inhibited desires she resists at almost every turn.

The reality of her closeted interior life, far more so than the attendant plot about missing children and a paedophile ring, makes for a stealthily compelling meditation on love, loss and duty. Tethered’s ending, a somewhat forced compromise of whodunnit thriller and ghost story can only disappoint, but in Clara, MacKinnon has created an original heroine whom you suspect will return in further mysteries.

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