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 Greece and brings his family to settle in the Riverland of South Australia in 1948. Although Greece and his past are far behind him, Alcandor harbours a terrible secret and he remains a fearful man. Alcandor subdues his fear, and he and his family adapt to an idyllic life of freedom and opportunity.
However, eighteen years after leaving Greece, 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. Years later, Alcandor’s sons show signs of odd behavior 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.
Mine to Avenge is an excellent book. The amount of work and time and thought Kerry has put into this book is amazing. There are interconnected things everywhere, not to mention the research she has done about the history of Greece and America and Adelaide, and all the other places mentioned in the story. If you followed her blog tour she mentions a few details about where she got her ideas and how she wrote this story, and I always have a great admiration for people who put so much time and effort into their work for others to enjoy. There surely must be a time where they want to just wing it because it is easier, but a lot don’t, they want it to be as accurate as possible, especially if dealing with real times and real places and events.
When Alcandor Galanos is blamed for the death of his friend’s sister in 1940 Greece, it sets in motion a vendetta that will follow his family for the next seventy years. Kerry takes us on this journey of mystery and a vengeance that haunts the Galanos family, and by the end of the book you close it with so much inside your head about the connections and the lives of all the characters it is extraordinary. We are given multiple points of view and there is a fractured chronology as we get to see everyone’s side of the story as is required. This was evident right from the beginning because Chapter one opens with September 11, 2001, and leaving us on a cliff Kerry then jumps back to 1940 Greece where she shows us how it all began with another side of the story. It is writing like that that makes you eager to keep reading, if not to see where the exciting chapter leads, but also because you know there is still a cliff hanger from the very first chapter that is always on your mind as you are given this new information. But through this novel you get so many moments unanswered with new questions and as you continue you are abuzz with theories and you half read and half try and leap ahead in your mind and connect the dots.
The way Kerry captured moments of the past was wonderful. With real events like September 11 and World War 2 and conflicts in Greece, she manages to portray the feeling and environment wonderfully, as well as the characters who are embroiled in these events. For September 11, because it was the only real one I had any real connection too; the way the confusion and the environment were captured was done extremely well, without it having to be the main focus of the scene. I especially liked how other characters reacted, even those who were not directly involved, specifically Nina and her children Alethea and Mila. Nina cared for her children and protected them from the scenes outside their window and the way Kerry tells their side of the events, you instantly can establish the fear hidden deep under a need to keep children unafraid, but you also can sense the almost young adult 12 year old Alethea who senses the fear, but wants to help her mother by being calm for her.
Kerry has thought about everything, she has small details that make all the difference, the fact a mother protects the September 11 news from her kids, and how they treat the situation is very real, and very touching without showing the horrors, but still managing to capture the scene perfectly. The emotions, fear, uncertainty and missing description creates the images for you. This is evident in the other cases of terror with the family, creating the family bond, the family love amidst the destruction of the world around them was insightful and heart warming without a sense of over the top emotion.
There are so many gripping moments in this novel, even away from September 11, which isn’t really a huge part of the novel in the scheme of things, though it has its consequences and influences though which play their role in this interwoven narrative as does everything else. But with these scenes, and gripping moments of curiosity and intrigue, you become very involved in the lives of these characters, you have become so invested in their personal lives over their lifetime and knowing the dangers that surround them your brain works overtime to try and anticipate or deduct what it happening, about to happen, or has already happened.
Through the multiple points of view, as well as the jump between years you get to see the evolution of this family, and see children become fathers, mothers, and great grandmothers. When you read about characters when they are older with their families you also have the knowledge behind you of their childhood and their previous moments up until that point. And by having the same experiences retold from different eyes Kerry has compiled these lives, and this mysteriousness into an exquisite packages that leaves nothing unturned, even if it is still being uncovered in the final pages.
There are wonderful transitions between characters and emotions, nothing is rushed, yet nothing is drawn out unnecessarily with unneeded details. Each character is captured and portrayed so well, with such affection you do see them as real people, or as whole characters with a history and past.
As I reached the halfway mark point the cogs inside my head that had been working overtime to think and deduce started to click into place. When suspicions were confirmed it was as if a curtain had been lifted and the pieces started to fall into place. Of course there is always the missing pieces in the puzzle that magically end up under lounge cushions and under pets, these were yet to come, but that doesn’t stop a small sense of delight at the developing result.
I will not give away any more of this plot as it is too glorious not to experience yourself, but by the end of the book, when we are truly still having things revealed, it is done so wonderfully that you close the book feeling like you have been involved in something amazingly complex that works so well on oh so many levels.