Spoiled rotten 16-year-old Tamara Goodwin has everything and appreciates nothing--until her gilded lifestyle shatters with her bankrupt father's suicide at the start of this magic-infused suspense novel from Irish author Ahern (P.S. I Love You). Almost overnight Tamara and the shell of what used to be her mother have to vacate their foreclosed Dublin mansion, relocating to her aunt and uncle's modest digs in the depths of the countryside. But there's more going on in County Meath than meets the eye, as the bored girl discovers while exploring the nearby castle ruins. Then danger lands on her doorstep in the form of the locked leather-bound volume she borrows from the local lending library. It proves to be a diary that appears to write itself--one day before the events described. As Tamara starts to tap the book's powers, exposing some painful family secrets in the process, Ahern's tale-spinning prowess keeps the reader riveted. If only her characters were equally satisfying. (Feb.)
After Tamara's father commits suicide in the face of bankruptcy, the teen and her mother must live with relatives in rural Ireland. Away from her posh friends and lavish lifestyle, Tamara is bored and can't quite put her finger on why things in her new home seem a little off. To make matters worse, her mother increasingly spends time locked away in a darkened room, assumed to be severely depressed. When Tamara comes across a ruined castle and a locked diary that reveals entries in her handwriting dated one day in the future, things take a supernatural twist. Can she change the future and possibly get help for her mother, or will all the secrets that eventually come to light only make things worse? VERDICT Ahern has made a definite change in her writing with her recent fiction, going from chick lit to modern fairy tales. The supernatural element doesn't work well in this novel, however, with a buildup that falls slightly flat. Better examples can be found in Allison Winn Scotch's novels or Melanie Rose's Life as I Know It. Still, Ahern has fans from her P.S. I Love You days, so purchase accordingly. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/10.]—Rebecca Vnuk, Forest Park, IL
In Ahern's latest (The Gift, 2009, etc.), a family's secrets lurk in the ruins of an Irish castle.
Tamara, who is 16 but has always felt older, one day finds herself abruptly evicted from her old life. After her father, George, a mega-rich developer, kills himself in the man cave of his Dublin McMansion, his wife, Jennifer, and Tamara learn that he has lost everything to the global real-estate bubble. They move in with Tamara's country uncle, Arthur, who lives in the gatehouse of Kilsaney Castle with his high-strung wife, Rosaleen. At the gatehouse, Tamara braces herself for a long summer. Her mother is in a near-catatonic state of grief, rarely leaves her bedroom and sleeps most of the time. Rosaleen, when she's not cooking gargantuan meals, is discouraging Tamara from doing almost anything, from getting the mail to trying to persuade Jennifer to get out of bed. While exploring near the Castle, which was gutted by a long-ago fire, Tamara meets Sister Ignatius, who keeps bees in a walled garden. Sister Ignatius promises never to lie to Tamara, but she's oddly circumspect when quizzed about Rosaleen's eccentricities. Boys help relieve the tedium. Should Tamara tell Marcus, the hunk who drives the Bookmobile, that she's still jailbait? There's also winsome Weseley, Arthur's summer helper. Weseley's father, a doctor, makes a house call to treat Jennifer, but Rosaleen drives him away. At the bungalow across the street, Tamara stumbles on enough blown glass to stock several art fairs, but who is the artist? All this would be perplexing enough for Tamara to puzzle out on her own, but Ahern introduces a superfluous note of paranormal activity: a blank diary that periodically tells Tamara,in her own handwriting,what will happen the next day. The diary chronicles the inevitable and the avoidable: It's up to Tamara to figure out which is which.
A far-fetched novel with too much going on.