Aussie Book Review: Mine to Avenge by Kerry Letheby
As part of Kerry Letheby's Blog Tour for her novel Mine to Avenge, I have the pleasure of being chosen as her "swan song" post.
Born at Loxton in South Australia's Riverland region, most of Kerry's childhood friends were found within the pages of books in the school library where she spent most of her time. She developed a particular love for historical fiction, in which the origins of her writing are deeply rooted in this time, and loved stories in which the characters demonstrated inspirational courage.
When she left school, she wanted to be an artist or writer, but her well-meaning father told her that neither of those would pay the rent and encouraged her to be a teacher instead. She did teach for some years in both the public and private sectors, giving birth to three sons along the way and moving from teacher to home-schooling mother for a few years, thereafter going into full-time pastoral care.
Her next career shift was working as a rehabilitation worker in the Mental Health sector, followed by a short stint in aged care in the respite sector. Kerry currently works as a Case Manager in a "Parenting After Separation" program, a job she loves and is very passionate about.
Now living in Mt Gambier in South Australia's Limestone Coast region, Kerry spends her spare time pursuing her writing and other creative outlets, such as calligraphy, which have been on the back-burner for many years.
Yesterday, Kerry was a guest over at Rebecca Berto's a Novel Girl Blog, discussing the subject of "Building Fictional Characters and Making Them Real". Please feel free to head on over to hear what Kerry had to say by clicking here.
A full schedule of Mine to Avenge's April 2013 book tour is here.
“When Alcandor is blamed for the tragic death of his friend’s sister in Greece in 1940, little does he know of the repercussions this will have for him and his family for the next seventy years. Unable to forgive himself, and wanting to give his young family a new start, Alcandor leaves
Alcandor subdues his fear, and he and his family adapt to an idyllic life of freedom and opportunity. However, eighteen years after leaving
Alcandor learns that his past has caught up with him. His family needs to know the truth, but
circumstances tragically intervene before he can warn them. Greece
Years later, Alcandor's sons show signs of odd behaviour hinting at possible mental instability, before disappearing without a trace. And in the next generation, Alcandor's grandson exhibits the same strange behaviour not long before he is killed in the tragedy of September 11, 2001. It is not until 2010 that Alcandor's great-granddaughter, Alethea, discovers that there is far more behind her family's tragic history than mental illness, and little does she know that the threat against her family is much closer than she realises, and very far from over."
Summary and Thoughts
When one woman discovers a decades old family secret, leading to a vendetta of epic proportions, she will need all the help she can get to uncover the truth, but the power to end it rests in one man!
Two-thousand, nine hundred and ninety six people died on 11 September 2001 as a result of the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon in the United States of America.
Whilst this novel doesn’t weigh us down with much detail on the events of that fateful day twelve years ago, it does play an integral part in the tragedy surrounding the mysterious disappearance of a son, brother, husband and father who begins to exhibit the same peculiar symptoms of mental illness which befell his grandfather, father and uncles, symptoms which manifest themselves in the form of extreme protectiveness bordering on paranoia with regard to the safety of their wives and children, resulting in unexplained disappearances.
While we are introduced to all members of the Galanos family, only some of these members share their version of events, shifting easily between past and present and giving us glimpses into their lives and memories.
The story begins to unravel when Nicholas, Alcandor’s grandson, husband of Nina and father of young Alethea and Mila begins exhibiting the same peculiar signs of mental illness which caused the disappearances of both Stepan and Dymas, his uncle and father. In order to try and cheer him up and in the hope that a holiday will relax him, the family arrange a visit to New York to visit his brother Theodore. Unfortunately, it is in New York while visiting Theo that the tragic events of 11 September 2001 come into play.
Theodore, Alethea’s uncle is the first to offer her a glimpse into the family’s past, with her grandmother, Catarina, the ninety-two year old matriarch of the Galanos family continuing the tale of her childhood in their little Greek village giving us insight into how Alcandor was “the first person she knew outside of her family”; the death of Alcandor’s best friend Constantine’s sister, Helena, and the rift caused between the two friends by the circumstances surrounding the tragedy, after which they flee from Greece to begin their new lives in Australia.
When a decades-old letter comes to light at a family get-together, a deep, dark secret is uncovered, one which Alcandor appeared to have kept to himself and Alethea, determined to solve the mystery surrounding the mental illness, with only the words in that letter to go on, begins her sleuthing with shocking truths finally being revealed.
I must admit that it took me a while to write this review and structure it in such a manner that I didn’t reveal too much. The intricately woven relationships are startling and Kerry keeps the pages turning by containing the final elements of suspense to the very end. There is a well-known idiom “the chickens eventually come home to roost” and that most certainly is the gist of this story.
While I did feel a flutter of annoyance at the constant repetition of events leading up to the final revelations, I soon realised that this was necessary in order to progress the story of the entangled lives of this Greek family through its numerous characters whilst covering several generations. Coming from a half-Portuguese family myself, I am well aware of how vast these European families can appear to others and the family tree which Kerry provides at the beginning is a bonus, going a long way to assisting with any confusion.
Told from multiple points of view, Mine to Avenge, like most Greek families, is large and resonates with an extremely strong sense of family. The balance between past and present is finely judged with a well-thought out and sustainable plot. Showcasing the events leading up to their exile for a sin they didn't commit, Kerry Letheby has woven a complex tale of grief, bitterness, vengeance, the fine line which exists between friends and foes, but ultimately, redemption!
Mine to Avenge has earned 4 / 5 stars from me and my thanks goes to Kerry for providing me with a signed paperback copy of her novel.
Please use the following links if you would like to know more about Kerry and her writing:
Kerry's Blog - Mine to Avenge
Twitter - @kletheby
To purchase a copy of Mine to Avenge:
Barnes & Noble
And, for a sneak peek, check out the book trailer: