Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Edge of Lost by Kristina McMorris

4 Star

On a cold night in October 1937, searchlights cut through the darkness around Alcatraz. A prison guard’s only daughter—one of the youngest civilians who lives on the island—has gone missing. Tending the warden’s greenhouse, convicted bank robber Tommy Capello waits anxiously. Only he knows the truth about the little girl’s whereabouts, and that both of their lives depend on the search’s outcome.

Almost two decades earlier and thousands of miles away, a young boy named Shanley Keagan ekes out a living as an aspiring vaudevillian in Dublin pubs. Talented and shrewd, Shan dreams of shedding his dingy existence and finding his real father in America. The chance finally comes to cross the Atlantic, but when tragedy strikes, Shan must summon all his ingenuity to forge a new life in a volatile and foreign world.

Kathryn - 4 Star

The Edge of Lost had me hooked from the start with Shan’s difficult start in life. I was worried about him initially and then realised he was a pretty tough kid with a lot of heart and so I then relaxed into reading this twisted story of love, family and character.

The novel moves from Ireland to Brooklyn and then back again with a stop in Alcatraz where Shan faces more hurdles than he deserved. I found his honour fascinating. He was so loyal to the Capella family, who took him in, that he found himself in that prison.

The novel is full of decisions for Shan- much as most of us have in life- but his are more serious in their nature and made the plot push forward at a quick pace. The historical aspects of The Edge of Lost were fantastic. There were stories about Alcatraz, prohibition and the variety shows as well as the different areas of New York and Brooklyn with so many nationalities bringing their own traditions to a new city. I loved reading the Q&A at the end with McMorris about which bits she chose to follow to the letter and which morphed into fiction. Her research went deeply and I appreciated that but I could understand also how Shan’s fictional life got away from her and she followed her heart in writing the novel- a tough balance for a writer of historical fiction.

The novel was well balanced with action and history and I read it quickly and with heart. I wish we’d been given an epilogue, something to tie in the rest of Shan’s life with his adoptive family in New York perhaps?  I missed that they weren’t given a final voice and he wasn’t able to reunite with them.

Thank you to Kensington Books for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

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