Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Review: The Mill River Redemption

Summary: Josie DiSanti is starting over. Recently widowed, she has fled her New York City home with her two young daughters—spirited Rose and shy Emily—in tow. She takes refuge in Mill River, Vermont, to live with her only remaining relative, Ivy Collard, the local bookstore owner and a woman Josie barely knows. There, the young mother and her girls build a new life for themselves—until a shocking tragedy tears the sisters apart.

Years later, Josie’s still-estranged daughters return to the quiet town for the reading of their mother’s will, which stipulates that they must work together to locate a hidden key to a safe-deposit box containing their inheritance. Even from the great beyond, it seems Josie will do anything to bring about her daughters’ reconciliation. Having no choice but to go along with their mother’s final wishes, Rose and Emily move back to Mill River for the summer to begin the search—discovering that, in the close-knit community known for magic and miracles, an even greater treasure awaits them. -- Ballantine

THE MILL RIVER REDEMPTION by Darcie Chan is the second book in the Mill River series, and it doesn't disappoint. Once again, Ms. Chan has created an extraordinary cast of characters whose lives are touched by their family and friends in Mill River. Fans of the first novel won't want to miss what happens next in this charming and delightful town!

THE MILL RIVER REDEMPTION has a few stories going on, but the primary one focuses on Rose and Emily, two young sisters who arrived with their mother in Mill River after their father was killed in a house fire. The story fast forwards to the present day when both women come back to Mill River for their mother Josie's memorial service. Rose and Emily are estranged, to say the least; and Josie has made it part of her will that they must work together, while living next door to each other, to find a hidden key. This key will open a safe-deposit box and the women will discover their inheritance.

Of course, Rose and Emily both have their reasons that they have to work together, though neither one is thrilled. In fact, tensions escalate as they individually search for their own clues. Secrets from both women's lives come to the surface as the reader begins to understand why they dislike each other so much; and unfortunately, it takes a serious accident, along with a huge surprise, before the Rose and Emily even think of reuniting.

I really enjoyed THE MILL RIVER REDEMPTION and all of the drama between Rose and Emily. Like the first novel in the series, I again fell in love with this close-knit community and its citizens. I was thrilled to see some of my favorite characters, like Father O'Brien and Daisy, return in this book; and their presence made me feel like I was visiting with old friends.

I did like how Ms. Chan created Rose and Emily's back stories and how she gradually revealed them. The book goes back and forth between the present and the past, as well as between the various characters; and it really felt like a mystery of sorts was being unraveled as the event around their break-up was disclosed. While that "event" was tragic to say the least, the real surprise of the novel occurs near the end... and it's one big shocker!

One thing that I really enjoyed about THE MILL RIVER REDEMPTION is how it made me feel. I'm pretty sure that I wrote almost the same thing in the first book review of this series too! I love this community and its quirky citizens, and I also like how they come together to help their friends and family in need. It just warms my heart. I am such a sucker for books about redemption, and I don't think I'm giving anything away when I say that a major theme of this novel is redemption (it's in the title!)

THE MILL RIVER REDEMPTION works as a standalone novel with only a few hints as to what happened in THE MILL RIVER RECLUSE. However, I definitely recommend reading them in order. There are a few recurring characters whose stories pick up where they left off in the first novel, and I think learning their background allows the reader to feel more vested in their lives.

Like the first book, THE MILL RIVER REDEMPTION would make a fantastic book club pick. The characters in this novel are all dealing with their fair share of baggage which provides a great deal to discuss. Fortunately, there is a reading guide with fourteen questions; however, I'm pretty sure you wouldn't have any problems finding things to discuss on your own. Some of the themes you might want to explore include sister relationships, mother/daughter relationships, addiction, grief, secrets, parent/child relationships, forgiveness, love, guilt, friendship, and redemption.

THE MILL RIVER REDEMPTION is ultimately a special story about families and forgiveness. Highly recommended.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.


Heidi’sbooks said...

I've heard lots of good things about this book/series. Thanks for the review.

bermudaonion said...

You made me want to read this series when you reviewed the first book. This sounds like something I'd love.

Beth Hoffman said...

Nice review, Julie! I have this series on my list and need to make room in my schedule to read the first two books in order.