A terrible car crash sets things in motion for 31 year old Mackenzie when her critically injured husband, Nick, whispers warnings that someone from his past may attempt to harm or kill her after his passing. He urges her to travel to Philadelphia to his childhood home. Find James, he insists. It’s the only way out.
His last words are pushed to the side in the aftermath of his death, as Mackenzie is consumed with grief. Until the things he had spoken of start to come true. Mackenzie’s search brings her to the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia, to the 19th century mansion where her husband was raised, and face to face with a mother-in-law she didn’t know existed. The two women each have an agenda. Cora, a recluse, worries that her son revealed devastating childhood secrets to his wife. Mackenzie is concerned that unless she uncovers those secrets and finds the elusive James, she may not survive. The two women circle around one another, hunter and prey. But which is which?
As the plot unfolds Mackenzie becomes more driven and takes increasingly dangerous risks while Cora’s precarious mental state rapidly deteriorates forcing her to relive a past she has worked so hard to keep buried.A gallery of photographs in the bowels of the house holds clues to generations of abuse, treachery and possibly murder. Messages hidden in Nick’s childhood Bible within the Epistle of James have Mackenzie racing against time to put the pieces together, unearth the reasons her husband chose to vanish when he was sixteen years old, and locate the person mentioned in Nick’s dying breath.
When James is finally found, the results are more horrifying than Mackenzie could have ever imagined.
My Rating: 5/5 stars
Recently, I’ve been reading young adult novels nonstop. For months, I read nothing but YA and now, I feel saturated. I signed up for this book blog tour because the synopsis got me interested. I thought to myself that maybe I should take a break from YA and get back to my usual reads. If I’m not reading YA, I read mysteries and thrillers. I wasn’t really sure what the tone of the book will be but the synopsis really got to me and so I started reading it. And boy, I would never regret doing so.
I will keep this review spoiler-free but I just want to emphasize that this book is amazing. Sorry for my limited vocabulary but it is truly amazing for me. I longed for this type of books after all the shallowness and fluff I’ve read the past months. This novel had a tightly woven plot, characters you want to know and twists and turns you just want to get lost into. I was loving the tone of the novel, how Ellen Green wrote it. It was fantastic. I was reading it on the Kindle app of my phone at past midnight, alone in the common area of my dorm, and I got really scared that I decided to just sleep. Only to continue reading because it’s that good. It wasn’t like the part that I was reading was scary but the feel and the ungodly hour might have been too much to handle at that time. What can I say, I’m a scaredy cat!
The plot did not lack in anything. I was really pleased and I enjoyed reading this book so much. It did not disappoint. The characters were mysterious and you would do anything to just get to the next page and finish this book asap. Gah, I know I toss this word around loosely but I think I love this book. I’m also a fan of stories that get us right at the conflict. No background at the start, just smack us with the problem. Nick’s dead and what now? The author did not dwell on Nick and Mackenzie’s life before the accident. He’s dead and that’s where the story actually starts. I really dig that. This novel never stopped with the twists. When you think all twists were already exhausted, Ellen Green will surprise you with more. The ending was nicely tied up, no loose ends, without delving into a deus ex machina and the sappiness. This story was just pure win.
I truly recommend this book for people who yearn for plot-driven narratives, characters that will got you twisted in agony over wanting to know what’s their deal and great writing style.
About Ellen J. Green
I was born and raised in upstate NY and moved to the Philadelphia area to go to college. I graduated with degrees in psychology. Although writing has always been my first love I somehow took a left turn in life and ended up as a therapist in a maximum security correctional facility.—for the past 7 years. (plenty of fodder for writing there, I can tell you).
I have been published three times in various magazines, (True Confessions, Woman’s World) The Book of James is my first novel. I am starting a Masters degree program in creative writing in the fall.
I now live in south Jersey with my two children.