In this debut novel, a woman clings to life while learning her family’s legacy of witchcraft, infidelity, and secrets.
Ellie wakes up alone in a snowy field, disoriented but uninjured following a car accident. She wanders through the cold until she finds a small cabin and is welcomed inside by Grace, her dead great-grandmother. Grace was murdered by her husband in 1975 and has been waiting for Ellie and the opportunity to share a story. Though Ellie is not dead, it seems she has landed in the in-between. Grace spins the tale of her unhappy marriage and tragic demise, of the witches in their family and those who have suffered from curses and ill-intentioned magic. While Ellie struggles to make sense of her family’s unexpected past and the modern-day ramifications of these revelations, her husband, Joe McHugh, sits by her hospital bed wracked by guilt. He’s a drunk who has cheated on Ellie and denied her hopes for a baby. Joe promises to change but can only wait helplessly as his wife lies in a coma. Klinger-Krebs’ twisty narrative takes multiple paths, jumping between the past and present and the living and the dead. The author deftly shows that secrets have permeated generations of Ellie’s family, causing pain and unhappiness. Grace’s mother kept her witchcraft a secret and Grace hid both her heritage and later infidelity. Ellie’s mother and grandmother never spoke of magic. And Joe, who is keeping several secrets from his wife, let the silence fester and infect his marriage. Klinger-Krebs’ potent message that “when no one speaks about the past or the present…or even the truth…silence can become a room” is well-demonstrated through the unhappy marriages that populate the novel. There are a number of superb plotlines and intriguing characters, which make the addition of supernatural components an unnecessary diversion. The vivid story is at its best when it is grounded in the realities and messiness of living, the challenges inherent in relationships, and the difficulty of navigating daily disappointments.
A busy narrative and supernatural elements somewhat distract from this tale’s powerful underlying message to break free from the patterns of the past and embrace the future you desire.