Review for The Toil of Hands by Todd Mihalcik

Note: This is NOT a romance, it's a literary fiction work.

Past and present collide in the idyllic north coast valley of Sonoma, California, during the spring of 1906 when a stoical winegrower and his embattled grandson confront an evil that, insidious and multifarious, conspires to destroy their beloved vineyard and lay waste to their family’s hard-won legacy.

After nearly half a century, patriarch Jim O’Keeffe and his extraordinarily gifted but haunted grandson William find themselves reluctantly entering their final wine producing year together. Their longstanding pact to pass the vineyard and its traditions from one custodian safely to the next, however, is jeopardized when a forty-year-old secret erupts, unearthing familial madness and explosive violence, releasing a chain of mysterious plagues, and triggering a catastrophe of biblical proportions. Amidst the grit and mist-enshrouded grandeur of grape growing season, Jim wrestles against demons and William with a miraculous, though ultimately destructive, ability while both men struggle to keep from losing a beautiful and altogether wondrous world that hangs precariously in the balance.

With warmth and wisdom, "The Toil of Hands” explores the vagaries of fate and examines the demands of high art while chronicling the heartache and profound sacrifice that unflagging devotion demands. Combining commercial and literary fiction, "The Toil of Hands" figures as a timeless piece of storytelling driven by strong, well-developed characters, fueled by cinematic imagery, and rendered in elegant, yet austere, prose.

My Review

Todd Mihalcik's "The Toil of Hands" is a standalone literary fiction read. I don't usually read this genre, so I don't have much to compare this with, but I definitely enjoyed it. It was a real page turner. The beginning is a big hook - love the feel of something evil coming. The characters are very deep and the storyline is extremely detailed. I could see this as a big budget movie!

4 out of 5 stars


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