Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

MISTWALKER by Saundra Mitchell

Saundra Mitchell Mistwalker

Buy At Amazon Mistwalker

I got an advance copy of Mistwalker by Saundra Mitchell. I fell in love with the evocative cover and couldn’t help guessing what the book was about even before I read the synopsis. Turns out I was both surprised and disappointed.

To encapsulate this book for a quite byte, I’d call it a mix between a coming of age tale and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, which was a novel, then a movie, then a television series. But I digress.

I was really torn by the directions in this book. The writing is immersive and pulls you in. Willa Dixon is a real, breathing, hurting person in these pages. I walked with her through her troubles, her world, and the shreds of her innocence. Willa’s life has been torn apart, and even though nothing she can do will ever put her life back together the way it was, she’s grimly aware that she’s barely hanging on to what she has left. The reader feels that terror too, and the fact that it’s all slipping away.

Mitchell portrays a compelling view of the Maine coastal lobster communities, not in too much detail, but in enough that the reader feels the crunch of sandy, rocky beaches underfoot and wriggling nightcrawlers Willa digs up for money to help the family. I was instantly absorbed by the loss of Willa’s brother and the court case that looms ahead of the family. I wanted to reach more about that, about Willa and her relationships, to the extent that the chapters with the Grey Man actually interrupted.

I’m not sure exactly how the Gray man and the legend of the lighthouse is supposed to play out in the novel. The pure supernatural aspect of that part of the story should have overwhelmed the other, swept it away by the love triangle that could have been between the Grey Man, Seth, and Willa. Yet that never really manifested.

In fact, the payoff on many of the questions Mitchell so skillfully raises aren’t answered by the end of the novel. I want to know how the case against her brother’s killers went (no spoiler, the fact that her younger brother was shot is revealed early on) and I want to know where the whole Grey Man/Lady legend and manifestation came about. I want to know what happened at the end, what happened to Charlie, etc.

I suppose maybe those things are supposed to be left up to the reader to decide, but I don’t want to decide those things. Mitchell does such a good job of establishing questions, tension, and place that not having those answers is incredibly jarring. Maybe there are sequel(s) in the works, but I would like to know that.

I hadn’t read anything by Mitchell before this book, but I’m definitely going to pick up a copy of Wild when it comes out under her Alex Mallory name in July. And if another Willa Dixon book comes about, I’ll read it too. Mitchell’s writing is simple and powerful and haunting, and the Maine she writes about is something I’ve never seen in a book before, so if you haven’t read her, you should.

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