BOOK TITLE: House of Eire: A Hillary Broome Novel
AUTHOR: June Gillam
GENRE: Fiction: Mystery / Crime
NUMBER OF PAGES: 260
SERIES / STANDALONE: Hillary Broome Novel #3 (Read as standalone)
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: I thank iRead Book Tours for this review copy.
In House of Eire, Hillary Broome, a reporter-turned-ghostwriter from Lodi, California, and her detective husband Ed fly to Ireland—Ed for a gang conference in Dublin and Hillary to research her ancestors in Galway. Hillary plans to meet up with her friend Bridget, who’s pushing a greedy developer to include a memorial museum inside his proposed Irish theme park. As Hillary travels through Ireland and learns more about her friend’s crusade, she uncovers secrets and mysterious forces nudging her to fly away home.
When you are hooked onto a series, and read all the books in it continuously, it becomes difficult as time goes on to separate the individual events that happened in the different books. You have absorbed the story as a whole but you are not quite sure if, say, the marriage or the car chase happened in the books 2 or 3. There is always a slight risk of confusing characters even if the books could be read as standalones. The Hillary Broome novels would work good as standalones but since I got the first two (chronologically, not in series structure) as a gift from the author, I read them in the sequential order. So the first impression for the book would be merged with those I had of the previous books on the whole and not a unique, defining line.
The cover for the book (like its predecessors) looked simple and not really covering the brilliance of the writing within. The summary kept it short and intriguing and has enough substance to make the random reader pick this up at bookstores and read further.
House of Eire is the third Hillary Broome novel and like the books before it, it was also filled with great writing, tight plots and splendid story weaving. After having read all the three books in the set, I am of the opinion that the House of Eire could be read as a standalone because it does not miss out on any vital information but reading the other two books in the chronological order of release would make more sense. The protagonist herself undergoes a sea of change that changes her perspective on everything she encounters and it would be cruel injustice to just try to absorb her character and analyse it if you have read this one first. Reading the other two after this would be like watching a movie in reverse - from adulthood to gestation, because there is a lot to be gleaned about all the major characters from the first two books. That being said, House of Eire can be perfectly understood as one standalone book if that is all you have time for!
The story itself is simple. Hillary is a reporter / ghostwriter. She decides to go to Ireland accompanied by her detective husband Ed. Ed is out there for a different purpose but Hillary focuses on retracing her ancestory while she is embroiled in a local problem. Her friend is now the leader of the group of people resisting the construction of a theme park that does not focus on Ireland's history as much as it should. Things turn murky when murders happen and all of a sudden it is not just the normal lives anymore. Paranormal references infuse the story after that point and it becomes a thick plot and a good page turner material.
It is hard to write successive books with the same characters without seeming to offer contradictory development in character traits over multiple installments. For example, a character defined as 'generous with words' cannot be made to stutter and use bland words in later books, unless the situation calls for it. It is in the little things like these that Gilliam scores. The developmental changes that happen are almost always either completely consistent or veer off with good reason. The author deserves special praise for this. The language and descriptions are so realistic that they made me visit Ireland in my mind and it was, in equal parts, fun and emotional to know about the people and their living conditions.
I looked at the book as a separate standalone and from that perspective, the novel and its plots are simple yet stunning. But when I say 'plots', I mean the two different things that the story focuses on and somewhere halfway through, the beginning is swiped down on the priority list only to be brought in to tie up the loose ends later on. But the overall tone and mood of the book more than makes up for this lapse. It is emotional, it is poignant and at the same time, enough to generate and keep the interest going until the last page. Having read all the books together, I would really like to read the next book in this set that comes along because Hillary as a character has got a niche for herself in my mind, thanks to June's carefully constructed writing.
WHAT I LIKED:
- Focused writing that drew me in and kept me there
- Pace did not slacken much
- Descriptive writing that took me to the actual place I was reading about
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:
- A bit more continuity and expansion to the 'looking into the family tree' angle of the story would have helped the book.
- A slight confusion as to the main plot arises when the deviations come, but even then the story maintains pace wonderfully
- The cover could have been a bit more alluring
Go for this one! It is a good read that keeps you turning the pages.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
June Gillam teaches literature and writing at a Northern California Community College. She describes this series as psychological suspense novels in which Hillary Broome, reporter and ghostwriter, fends off complex villains of many kinds: a berserk butcher, a demented daughter and a haunted theme park developer.
EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Paperback, Kindle
PRICE $10.98 for Paperback, $4.03 for Kindle
BOOK LINKS: Amazon