Saturday, February 15, 2014

Book Review: "Mercy Snow" by Tiffany Baker

The town of Titan Falls, New Hampshire is ruled by its paper mill. The mill has always been a powerful fixture in the town and it still employs most of the men. Its success or failure has a direct effect on the well-being of the town, and its byproducts have tainted the Androscoggin River for years, certainly leading to a number of deaths and illnesses.

One night a tragic bus accident rocks the town, holding two families in its sway—the McCallisters, who run the mill, and the ne'er-do-well Snows, who had only recently returned to Titan Falls and now live on its fringes. When Zeke Snow is accused of causing the accident despite his innocence, his younger sister, Mercy, is determined to prove his innocence, while starting to embrace the mysterious gifts that have been handed down through generations of women in her family. All Mercy wants is normalcy, but trouble and scandal seem to follow her family wherever it goes.

June McCallister, wife of the mill's owner, reinvented herself from the poor Florida girl she once was to the woman whose actions are followed by everyone in town. When she discovers some facts about the night of the accident, and how her own family was far more involved in events than anyone knows, she is determined to protect her husband and her son at any cost, no matter what it takes—intimidation, innuendo, bribery, lies, even putting others at risk. June doesn't really want to know the full truth, about the accident or the Snows' ancestor, Gert, whose skeleton was uncovered the night of the accident, and to whom her husband's family may very well be linked.

Mercy Snow is a book with a gothic feel. It's one where no one is quite what they seem, and there are more secrets than truths. It's a story about a town where the power of some has held dominion over others, no matter what the cost, and no one wants to be the one to speak out or ask questions. It's also a story about the strength of familial relationships and all that we'll do to protect the ones we love.

This was an interesting and compelling book, and Tiffany Baker has a very evocative use of language. I wished there were a few more surprises in this book than there were; I felt as if once I got a handle on the plot and where it was going I was able to fairly accurately predict how the story would resolve itself. I also don't particularly enjoy books or movies where one character or group of characters hold all the cards and can manipulate everyone into doing what they want, even though it's wrong, although I know this happens in real life. But in the end, the star of this book is Baker's storytelling ability and the town of Titan Falls itself, both of which made the book worth reading.

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