Death is the last frontier in so many ways. In my circles, even friends who talk about sex, politics, and that most forbidden of topics, paychecks, rarely talk about the nitty gritty of death. That's something we save for our own private hells or heavens.
"I plunge my finger between the folds of the incision, then hook my forefinger deep into her neck. Unlike most of the bloodlines, which offer perfunctory resistance, the carotid artery doesn't surrender itself willingly. Tethered between the heart and the head, the sinewy tube is often weighted with years of plaque, thickening its resolve to stay. More so now that rigor mortis has settled deep within the old woman."
This is the opening to Amy MacKinnon's novel.
Probably, even those who, because of culture or religion, are comfortable with the notion of death, thinking it a walk into a better place, still, I think, avoid the actual physical notions of our bodies after we take our last breath. What happens to our soulless bodies? These secrets are reserved for those who work in this secret landscape.
A walk into that room where death goes, that's just a portion of what Amy Mackinnon offers in Tethered, but oh, what a gift that is. Clear cool writing and a gripping story, which forced me to turn the pages perhaps faster than I should, because there is nothing one should miss in this book took me on a captivating ride. There was not an instance of MEGO (my eyes glaze over.)
Clara Marsh prepares the dead with respect and love while living a life so quiet that she might as well be one of them. Her (slowly revealed) traumatic past leads her to live a frozen life, until a neglected at-risk little girl forces her to choose between the living and the dead.
MacKinnon's story pulled me along, her writing enchanted me on the journey, and then, her skillfully braided research into the world of the basement of a funeral home made that most fearful of visits, in some miraculous feat of literature, less forbidding.
One would wish to have a Clara for their last appointment with the living. Reading Tethered allows you to think that perhaps, just perhaps, this grace will be offered.
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