David Yoon's Reviews > Jamrach's Menagerie

Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch
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's review
Aug 30, 2011

liked it
Read in August, 2011

It's a gem of a book that can still manages to break my heart.

The tavern at Faial Island is just a wonderful bit of writing. Cakes, wine, smoking cheroots and a mandolin girl. On the Lysander and the rending of the great whale is all blood, viscera and industry. It's a rollicking and sure voice.

Then the book slides into the bleak second half. It's a deft hand that can render the slow creep into madness and desperate survival that brings the remaining crew of the Lysander back to England. Every deprivation, each brief respite and the eventual catalog of death is beautifully revealed. Maybe it's the thankful inclusion of retrospective that promises Jaffy's survival that makes the going bearable.

I'm just not sure of the denouement. It's seems adrift. A small complaint.

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