Cliff of the Ruin
Mae is a headstrong twenty-six-year-old living on her uncle’s farm in New Jersey. Because she is unmarried and nearing thirty, she gets a lot of questions concerning potential suitors. What no one knows, however, is that she has not one love interest, but two: Kieran McCree, a mysterious, handsome stranger, and William Teague, a charming Civil War hero. The beginning of the novel plays out like an incredibly fun romantic comedy, until things get very serious.
Mae, after discovering a disturbing truth about her family, runs away with Kieran and returns weeks later – alone, ailing, and married. She refuses to talk to anyone, and Mr. Teague is called in to help. Once Mae recovers, she can remember nothing of her elopement. She and Will set off to Ireland in search of her missing husband. What follows is a dark, fascinating tale involving fairies, disguises, redemption, and love.
This is a magical story, wonderfully told. McKernan does an excellent job of bringing the various characters to life, complete with charms, flaws, complex motivations, and perfectly rendered dialects. Everything feels real, even the fantastical elements, and that makes the drama that much more exciting. This is world building at its finest.
The story is also just plain exciting. McKernan takes her time setting up the plot, reeling you in, and then everything picks up speed until it is so fast-paced and intense that you can’t possibly stop reading. There are fistfights, gambling, dangerous women, scoundrels, unexplained injuries, and so much more – all the elements of a great adventure.
And the mysteries! There are so many plot threads that are barely hinted at and then slowly untangled throughout the book, leaving you constantly wondering until the very last page, where all is finally revealed. This is a brilliantly crafted tale, and I am shocked that it is McKernan’s first book. I will certainly be on the lookout for more from this author.
Cliff of the Ruin is an exceptional book, a delightful mix of historical fiction, romance, fantasy, adventure, and mystery that everyone will enjoy. I cannot recommend it enough.