Why did an inoffensive widow and aunt lock up, starve and poison her three young nieces Fiona, Roisin and Aoife? Why did only Aoife escape and what happened to her? How did a legend grow up around Darling Jim, the man who caused a sensation with the stories he told of Ireland's past - and what's the answer - will he kill or will he love?
There's a mundane answer to nearly every question raised by this book, but undercutting that there is a fabulous story of obsession, passion, desire, and the man called Darling Jim. This is a novel that fizzes with unease and ambiguity. Beautifully told, beautifully written, it's quite unlike anything you're likely to have read before. There is a distinct touch of Angela Carter in the plot, with it's embedded fable, set in the darkness of Ireland's past, of two brothers, one of whom tried to kill his twin. For everyone in the story there is a real life counterpart - there's even someone playing the part of the brave knight, who tries to save the maiden - he's a postal clerk called Niall with an unlikely, almost unfeasible interest in this strange romantic story.
The ending is not as good as what's gone before, but it's difficult to see how one could improve on what has gone before. This is writing with an edge of sharpest power and most delicate pain.