18 October 2014

Book Review: The Mill River Redemption by Darcie Chan

"Having unexpectedly lost her husband and lacking the means to support herself, Josie DiSanti and her two daughters take refuge in the small town of Mill River, to live with Josie's aunt, Ivy. The sisters, Rose and Emily, are inseparable growing up - until a shocking tragedy tears them apart.

Years later, Rose and Emily return to Mill River for the reading of their mother's will, where they learn that Josie would do anything to force their reconciliation: the sisters must move into neighbouring houses for the summer and work together to locate the key to Josie's safe deposit box, which contains their inheritance. And so, left with no choice, Rose and Emily reluctantly begin their search. But in a place known for its magic and miracles, little do they know that an even greater treasure awaits them."

Rating: 5/5

You can buy The Mill River Redemption as a paperback or an eBook now.

I was really pleased to be sent a review copy of The Mill River Redemption by publishers Sphere. I first read Darcie Chan's work a few years ago when I read her debut novel, a New York Times Bestselling hit called The Mill River Recluse. It was an emotional but beautifully written book, and I was really excited to get back to Mill River and catch up with the residents. This isn't a sequel to the first book, the story is entirely separate, but for those of us who did read Darcie's first book, it's nice to go back to the town of Mill River and see how things have changed for the residents that we met before. This, though, is even better than her first book, and here's why it is a must-read for me.

Sisters Rose and Emily DiSanti are devastated by the death of their beloved mother Josie. The 2 women are forced to return to Mill River, the town where they grew up but both left years later, neither speaking to the other after a rift that destroyed the bond the girls had. Even in death, Josie is determined to bring the girls back together again, and leaves them a treasure trail of sorts that they must work together to solve in order to gain their inheritance. However, the women are determined not to work together, and neither wants to back down from their stance and it leaves their inheritance hanging in the balance. Will they be able to put their past arguments behind them and work together for one last time?

This story was really good to read from the beginning. Throughout the book, we get flashbacks to the childhood of Emily and Rose with their mother, and these scenes were among some of my favourites. It sounded like they had a pretty idyllic childhood, apart from the shocking death of their father, but everything else was pretty good. Josie, a single mum, is determined to make a success of herself and I enjoyed reading about her building up a career as a realtor (estate agent to us in the UK, I think!) with everything else she has to juggle as well. It all makes their separation now more puzzling, and you know it has to be something bad to drag these once-close sisters apart from each other. As the story moves on and we find out what happened, it is shocking, and I actually could understand the animosity between the pair, especially from Emily's point of view.

The present-day story from these two was very intriguing to read as well. The women are forced to live next door to each other, per their mother's request in her will, and immediately you sense things aren't going to go well. Rose is now a married mother to her son Alex, a gifted child who is forced to live with his mum in Mill River while his father remains in New York. However, Rose is hiding a dark secret, and she's determined to keep it hidden in Mill River. Emily is still single, and determined not to befriend her sister after all the time apart. It's hard to read the hatred between the two, I was longing for them to make it up. It was so well written, jumping from one story to the other with ease, and keeping the reader engaged. We also get to catch up with other residents in between the main story, something else I really enjoyed about the book as it kept it fresh, and it was nice as someone who has read Darcie's previous book to see these characters again.

As before, Mill River sounded utterly picturesque, and the perfect place for Emily and Rose to try and solve their differences. Darcie Chan's writing was fantastic throughout this book as well, allowing the story to develop at a slow pace, but keeping it pacey at the same time. She juggles many stories, from present day to the flashbacks, and the other residents of Mill River too, but it's easy to keep track and follow the story. I especially loved the inclusion of the girls' Great Aunt Ivy, she was fab and I loved reading her part in the girls upbringing and subsequent lives. It was a very moving story, a family saga that will leave you wanting more and sniffing into your tissue by the end at the emotion of it. All the elements of this book have come together perfectly, and I can whole-heartedly recommend this book, it's unputdownable, and just brilliant.

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