Grieving her son’s death, psychiatrist Susan Stone returns home to Colorado to help her elderly father manage his horse-breeding business. After the botched delivery of a prized foal, Susan rides wildly into the mountains, seeking release from consuming guilt. Thrown from her horse, she tumbles into a dark ravine and makes a startling discovery—a young man chained in the darkness.
I admit that comes directly from the back of the book. But I was afraid if I said it differently, I might give too much away. Most reviews tell you a good portion of the story and perhaps leave the ending to your imagination. But I don’t want to give anything away in this book, because if you’re like me, you want to enjoy the unknown, slowly unraveling the story as you read. It’s like that old soup commercial that says it’s so chunky you could eat it with a fork, but use a spoon, you’ll want to savor every bite. (or something like that)
In every scene, Kathryn Mackel leads you deeper into the mystery of the chained man, and though you have more information, you still don’t know what he’s about, only that the story has it’s claws in you and you can’t let go. A master of characterization and fresh writing, Mackel weaves all elements smoothly into an intriguing and, at times, shocking plot.
Though the novel is written in third-person, the villain’s voice is a unique blend that Mackel places strategically throughout the story. Here’s an example:
He is in a thinking mood and inclined to share his wisdom.
Tonight’s lecture, students, is—cue drum roll—the animal world.
The first beast specifically mentioned in the Bible is . . . anyone? Come on, children. You’ve read the press release. Now the serpent was more craft than any of the wild animals.
Condemned to crawl on his belly . . it is abundantly clear that the snake gets a bum rap. Certainly there are beasts far more manipulative. Consider cats, for example. Why are they elevated to household companionships while snakes are shrieked at, stomped on, driven over? Are sleep fur and twitchy whiskers really more attractive than exquisite scales or those penetrating eyes? Droll sigh. I fear that those little ears and friendly purr are cunningly deceptive. The truth is that a car will rip out a throat simply for the amusement of it. and their inclination toward humans is not to be interpreted as any sort of interest. Indeed, cats are the ultimate narcissists. Their way or the highway, baby.
Perhaps—cue drum roll and make it a double—a creature’s worth should not be measured in its essence, but in its function. Is not the rat known by the garbage he consumes? Though this is a worthwhile and perhaps enviable contribution, nevertheless folks fling invectives at these creatures when they really should sing praise. Certainly if one would rat out the truth, pun intended—self-deprecating chuckle—it wasn’t trash that devalued the rodent, but that he bore the black death. And consider this: why are the two middlemen overlooked in this equation? The flea, which has its own public relations nightmare to contend with. At the bottom of it all—it was bacteria that caused the plague.
We fear what we can see while the hidden persists, undeterred.
That gave me chills. I LOVE that nugget, that small slice of wisdom and the subtle, yet profound way she weaves it in.
I wholeheartedly recommend this book for those who love the creative and want to escape the humdrum of everyday novels. I’d love to hear your comments on this book.