Author: Shawn Smucker
Release Date: July 6, 2021
When Paul Elias receives a terminal diagnosis, he leaves his physician's office in a fog. Only one thing is clear to him: if he is going to die, he must find someone to watch over his granddaughter, Pearl, who has been in his charge since her drug-addicted father disappeared. Paul decides to take her back to Nysa--both the place where he grew up and the place where he lost his beloved wife under strange circumstances forty years earlier.
But when he picks up Pearl from school, the little girl already seems to know of his plans, claiming a woman told her.
In Nysa, Paul reconnects with an old friend but is not prepared for the onslaught of memory. And when Pearl starts vanishing at night and returning with increasingly bizarre tales, Paul begins to question her sanity, his own views on death, and the nature of reality itself.
In this suspenseful and introspective story from award-winning author Shawn Smucker, the past and the present mingle like opposing breezes, teasing out the truth about life, death, and sacrifice.
Reviewer: Paula Shreckhise
I have been curious about what kind of book Shawn Smucker writes. This is the first of his books that I have read.
It was an interesting premise of an ailing grandfather and his precocious granddaughter taking a trip to Grampy’s home town, a remote place. It is told in first person as if the grandfather is telling a story to his granddaughter Pearl. “I realize memories are heavy things , heavier still when we don’t let them go.”
The descriptions are top notch and put me right there in the pages. It kept me reading to see what happened next. But in the end, it fell short for me. I was expecting a clear Christian message. Other than the scene where the characters go to a church and take communion without knowing what it means and one trying to explain the doxology, there was nothing concrete or clear.
I liked the varying lengths of the chapters , but did not like the way it jumped forward and backward without a clear indicator.
A good ghost story? Yes! Great writing? Yes! A Christian allegory. Sadly No!
Will I read more by this author? Probably but not soon.
A complimentary copy of this book was provided by Revell through Interviews and Reviews. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.
Reviewer: Amy Smelser
This story really pulled me in with its lyrical style and the secrets being uncovered from the past to the present. This was a little bit creepy and very much a fantastical story.
It was very hard to put down as I felt like I was running out of time with Paul due to his illness. He is looking for someone to care for his granddaughter, Pearl, and he needs them soon. So he decides that he and she will go back to his hometown, where he had run away from forty years ago. But things are not quite the same, and everything is eerie and the people he meets are a bit off putting and those he knew have changed. There are many secrets and I like how as he reminisces about the past. His memories are a little bit more focused and he sees things he had not before.
This is not a horror story by any means, but I did not want to read it at night, as I said there is a layer of creepiness woven in. This story reminds me of the George Macdonald book At the Back of the North Wind and the past ambience and friendships I found in the show Stranger Things. This really was a unique story that kept me riveted and I can't wait for more from author Smucker's pen.
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher Revell through Interviews & Reviews. I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions are my own.
Reviewer: Mindy Houng
"We can never trust ourselves, never know our true motives. There is always something deeper at work, something unseen pulling us along to hidden ends. We paddle where we think we want to go, but all along it's the hidden current that takes us."
It's another lyrical and beautifully written novel by Shawn Smucker that addresses the everyday battle with grief and regret seeped in the past with its memories and fear of the unknown when facing our mortality in an unusual and memorable writing style. You cannot read this book in a rush, for every word penned is important and builds on each other to create the author's own brand of nostalgic and mysterious poetry, edged with suspense and sprinkled with hope. Truly the plot took me by surprise because I could not predict what will happen next. The first person narrative from Paul is raw and heart-wrenching as he tells the story in present tense like he's speaking to his grand-daughter. The flashbacks, still in Paul's voice, help to build his past in his hometown of Nysa without interrupting his narrative. This book is incredibly thought-provoking and will stay with you long after you've put the book down.
I received the book from Revell and was under no obligation to post a positive comment. All opinions are solely my own.
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