Friday, January 24, 2014

Review: Mistwalker by Saundra Mitchell

Friday, January 24, 2014 with 8 comments
Title: Mistwalker
Author: Saundra Mitchell
Series: n/a
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Publication Date: February 4, 2014
Source: for review via ATW ARC Tours
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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When Willa Dixon’s brother dies on the family lobster boat, her father forbids Willa from stepping foot on the deck again. With her family suffering, she’ll do anything to help out—even visiting the Grey Man. Everyone in her small Maine town knows of this legendary spirit who haunts the lighthouse, controlling the fog and the fate of any vessel within his reach. But what Willa finds in the lighthouse isn’t a spirit at all, but a young man trapped inside until he collects one thousand souls. Desperate to escape his cursed existence, Grey tries to seduce Willa to take his place. With her life on land in shambles, will she sacrifice herself?

I expected to be seduced by this book, much like the Grey Man "tries to seduce Willa to take his place". But to be honest, there's not much seduction here.  If you were looking forward to a romantic tryst with an urban legend type character, I think you're going to be disappointed with this one.  But, if you're looking for a story about a girl who's troubled by the part she played in her brother's death, about a girl who's trying to figure out where to go from here, then this might be your kind of book.

This is the third novel I've read from Saundra Mitchell, and as per usual, one of my favorite aspects is the setting. In this story, it's a poor fishing village in Maine.  I've never been to Maine, but I've always wanted to visit, and I almost felt like I had through the author's beautiful prose.  Her descriptions of the wharf and the lobster boats that sit in it, the island and it's somewhat magical lighthouse, the mystical fog that rolls into the village seemingly of its own accord, even the changing of the leaves as winter much beauty and majesty in such a cold, harsh place.

Mistwalker was surprisingly (to me, at least) told from both Willa and Grey's perspectives.  While Willa's voice was rather stilted and halting as she tried to deal with her grief, I found Grey's to be very appealing and almost poetic in nature.  Of course, Willa is from present-day and Grey is the spirit of a seventeen-year-old boy who's been trapped in the lighthouse for 100 years...their voices should sound very different.  However, I appreciated Grey's perspective much more.  His frustration and humiliation over being deceived into his current position were nearly tangible, and his overall appearance and control over the fog and mist made him that much creepier.  But he was just a boy who had been tricked, and he'd still proven himself more or less honorable over the 100 years he'd been ensnared on the island.

Willa, on the other hand, wanted to avoid thinking about her situation, wanted to avoid anything that meant things would change.  She gives everyone the cold shoulder and pushes them all away.  And then she meets the Grey Man.  Nothing comes of it, except that now she's even more worried about her own sanity.  But as luck would have it, their meeting is fortuitous to both of them in ways that neither of them are ready to comprehend.

The problem I ran into with this story was the pacing.  It just never really felt like the story was moving forward.  I think I would have preferred this narrative as a short story rather than a full-length novel.  The writing is's par for this author, but I have to admit I was more than a little bored at times.

A story of seduction that sounds to good to be true, Mistwalker is not what it appears to be, but I think it's all the better for it.  It's not entirely unique in its handling of grief and heartbreak, but it is genuine.  Haunting and beautiful, this eerie tale of tragedy and deception will appeal to fans of ghost stories and urban legends alike.

About the author:

Saundra Mitchell is the author of SHADOWED SUMMER, THE VESPERTINE, THE SPRINGSWEET, THE ELEMENTALS and forthcoming MISTWALKER. She’s also the editor of the YA anthology DEFY THE DARK.

This fall, she debuts WHILE YOU’RE AWAY, her first New Adult novel writing as Jessa Holbrook. In summer 2014, she debuts WILD, her first YA novel writing as Alex Mallory.

Find Saundra:

Website | Twitter | Goodreads


  1. great review. I am sorry it wasn't quite what you expected but I am glad you still liked it. Its still on my radar. Just need to find time to read them all.

  2. I've not heard of this author or book. It looks somewhat intriguing but I think I'd have the same problems with it as you have. I am curious about reading this author though...seems like she has very original ideas and settings. Great review!

  3. This sounds really interesting. I've never heard of this book before. I love when books can transport you to a place you've never been just threw prose.

  4. I'm happy to see that you still enjoyed this story, though it wasn't quite what you had hoped for. It sure does sound different!

  5. I debated requesting this, but ultimately just couldn't justify adding another book to my ridiculous pile. This sounds really interesting, though, and I think I will seek it out once it's released. I love a New England setting. I've never been to Maine either, but it one of my favorite places to read about. Great review!


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