The Edge of Lost starts with a bang, beginning in 1937 with the disappearance of the 10-year-old daughter of a prison guard on Alcatraz island and then going back in time to 1919 and 12-year-old Shanley Keagen, barely surviving in Ireland with his abusive Uncle and longing to find a way to travel to America to find his father. From there the events follow Shan through an incredible amount of ups and downs, finally bringing us back to the mystery of the missing girl and the actions following her disappearance. This format was perfect for the story as it helped build the momentum and kept me wondering how we would ever end up back where we started. At the end of the day, however, the real heart and soul of the story happened between 1919 and 1937 as we get to know Shan and the good and bad people that make up his life.
Shan himself was such an endearing character and it squeezed my heart to see him struggle through so many obstacles, all the time seeming to never quite feel like he had a home or family to call his own. He’s far from a one-dimensional character, however, and his inherent resourcefulness, determination and good nature kept me rooting for him to succeed on his seemingly insurmountable journey, one that takes far from a linear path.
Shan’s remarkable journey takes us to so many wildly varied locations and I find it amazing that Kristina McMorris was able to make each so real and easy to visualize for the reader. The story takes us through the gritty streets and pubs of Ireland, into the warm homes and sometimes dangerous streets of Brooklyn, into speakeasies, gambling houses and supper clubs during Prohibition, backstage and onstage for vaudevillian and burlesque shows and, of course, onto the harsh and unforgiving rock that is Alcatraz prison. I felt completely immersed in every location and found them to be true representations of the time period.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the secondary characters as I found them to be just as endearing and multi-faceted as Shan himself, especially the Capello family that take him in and try to give him the family he so desperately needs. This Italian immigrant family felt very true to life and even their dialogue fit their characters perfectly and they just came to life on the page. Their portion of Shan’s story really highlighted the difference between people being related by blood and those that are truly family. But, as with any family, it is the pain experienced at their hands that hurts the most and Shan’s relationship with them was complicated at times. His time within their home, one full of love but also tinged with the sadness they themselves had experienced, was my favorite part of the story.
The Edge of Lost is the story of one man’s journey to find his way in the world, one full of complications, miscommunications and missteps that, in a way, leads him full circle in his search for family. There are surprising twists and so many memorable characters and experiences that I’ll be thinking about this journey for a while. This is my second book by Kristina McMorris and I am once again impressed with how much she can make me feel for her characters. Anyone looking for a complicated yet endearing story that flies off the pages with delicious touches of history will find much to love here.
Colleen lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband, son, and their dogs Oliver and Cleopatra. When not working or taking care of her family she has her nose stuck in a book (and, let’s face it, often when she is working or taking care of her family as well). Nothing excites her more than discovering a new author to obsess over or a hidden jewel of a book to worship. You can find more of her reviews on her blog.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Kensington. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.