The Curse of Misty Wayfair by Jaime Jo Wright opens with “Melancholy was a condition of the spirit and the soul, but also of the mind. Still, she’d never seen melancholy claim a life and be the cause of a body laid to rest in permanent sleep.” Mary Coyle’s death, in 1908, is explained away as melancholy and a family cursein action. Thea, a post-mortem photographer who has recently arrived in town, is both saddened and perplexed by Mary’s death and the town’s apathy towards it.
100 years later, Heidi arrives in the same town. Her first stop is at an antique shop and, upon opening a photo album, she sees herself staring out of a century old photo. I love the visual Jamie creates with her words throughout the novel such as “Antique shops intrigued her, yet they also could be unsettling. At least in a mortuary, things stayed dead – presumably – but in places like this? Ghosts loitered in corners, under furniture, were released when one uncapped a cardboard hatbox, or reflected in old mirrors – like this one.” They are haunting and beautiful!
A letter draws both our leading ladies to Pleasant Valley. Shortly after arriving both encounter the legend of the long-dead Misty Wayfair and her ghostly actions. Each has a mystery surrounding their family and the truth is woven into the town’s history. Digging into the finding the truth, both Thea and Heidi find themselves in deeply creepy situations, a haunting asylum and encountering dangerous people.
“She glanced behind her, thoroughly convinced the woman in the window was chasing her down the curved driveway, screaming with a gaping mouth in a chasm so large an unsuspecting victim could fall into it and never return. Thick forest rose on either side of the drive, unwelcoming to the sunlight that tried to pierce through and warm the earth.” Its best to plan to read this on in one go, I couldn’t put it down! I wanted to know what happened and I wanted to be able to explain away all the spine-chilling happenings!
In the midst of the gothic mystery, Jaime brings in God’s light and His promise to love us as His adoptive children. “You are created to be an image of your Creator, my dear. That is a great honor. To be designed as Thea Reed, and signed by the mark of the Artist himself. You are a work of genius. But until you know that, your name, your roots, your past, and your future will be what you chase after. Like a leaf that blows in the wind. I would bid you all the best in catching it, only, if you do, it won’t satisfy. You will still wonder who Thea Reed is, long after your primary questions have been answered.” My favourite part of Jaime’s novels is how she explains in real-world ways what feel decidedly other-worldly, it’s both so clever and enjoyable!
It’s a five out of five on the en-JOY-ment scale and highly recommended! I am so looking forward to more books from Jaime!
From the back cover:
Left at an orphanage as a child, Thea Reed vowed to find her mother someday. Now grown, her search takes her to Pleasant Valley, Wisconsin, in 1908. When clues lead her to a mental asylum, Thea uses her experience as a post-mortem photographer to gain access and assist groundskeeper Simeon Coyle in photographing the patients and uncovering the secrets within. However, she never expected her personal quest would reawaken the legend of Misty Wayfair, a murdered woman who allegedly haunts the area and whose appearance portends death.
A century later, Heidi Lane receives a troubling letter from her mother–who is battling dementia–compelling her to travel to Pleasant Valley for answers to her own questions of identity. When she catches sight of a ghostly woman who haunts the asylum ruins in the woods, the long-standing story of Misty Wayfair returns–and with it, Heidi’s fear for her own life.
As two women across time seek answers about their identities and heritage, can they overcome the threat of the mysterious curse that has them inextricably intertwined?
I received a complimentary copy of the book from Bethany House through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.