Untying the Moon is a lyrical, haunting novel that just sticks with you. I went to visit my parents last week and my mother handed me this book to read while I was there. The author did a book reading in their little Montana town while I was there and my mom lent the novel to me before she’d even read it so that I could finish before I left. I spent the next day and a half engrossed in the world that Malphrus created, captured by her beautiful language.
The book is more of a character study and thus has little actual plot, though if I had to pin it down I’d say that the novel follows Bailey Martin through a few years of her life as she comes to grip with the death of her mother and reconciles her wandering spirit with romance and the needs of those who love her.
I will say that the plot takes a turn in the last third that I was not expecting. This turn doesn’t come out of nowhere, but it changed what I thought the novel was trying to say. I’m honestly still deciding if I liked that turn or not. However, the novel is strong enough and not plot driven, that my quibbles with a plot turn don’t change the fact that this is one of the better books I’ve read this year.
Honestly, if you’re at all drawn to language and the skill of a writer in putting pen to page you should absolutely read the book. The prose is simply gorgeous. It is this prose that kept me enthralled for hours, and Malphrus’s skill in capturing a moment or an idea is enviable. As I don’t have a copy of the book with me I can’t pull out my favorite passage, but here is a sample I found on Goodreads.
Over and over again the marlin hurls herself from the sea, completely out of the water, flailing from side to side, then crashing once more, sending spray into the air like a geyser. Her eyes are the size of the saucer Padgett had set his coffee cup on that morning, forever ago. They aren’t looking at him, the eyes. They are searching wildly for what has gone wrong with the world, the world that had been hers until she felt the sting of a hook and the weight of horror behind it.
I love the character of Bailey Martin, a woman who is unapologetically a wanderer. She wanders in and out of people’s lives, keeping only a few permanent connections, as she wanders up and down the east coast. Her one permanent place being the home town she grew up in.
Do, absolutely, check out this lyrical, haunting, mesmerizing novel.