By Saundra Mitchell
Available now from HMH BFYR
Read my reviews of Shadowed Summer and The Elementals
Willa Dixon's life changed forever when she made a rash decision that led to lasting consequences for her family (and career). Despite her guilt, she's not ultimately responsible. But when that person might get off scot-free, it just makes everything worse.
Enter the Grey Man. A local legend, they say he can grant you anything you want. Since MISTWALKER switches between his point of view and Willa's, it quickly becomes clear that that is not true. He's the prisoner of a curse, and Willa just might be his way out. Ordinarily I like books with multiple point of views, but I'm not sure the Grey Man's worked for me.
I really enjoyed Willa's story. She's going through an unbelievably tough time, and it is uncertain whether she can make it through. She's got what it takes to make it through, but she also has reasons to self destruct. I also liked that romance wasn't a big part of her story. She has a boyfriend, but he's rarely the focus. Her best friend and her parents are far more important. The ocean is more important too. Willa is a fisherman, and her number one goal and interest is getting her own boat. There's absolutely nothing between the Grey Man and Willa, which meant no love triangle. Thank goodness.
The Grey Man's story didn't work quite as well for me. He's pitiable, and never quite as sinister as he should be. The atmosphere is terrific, all small coast town smothered in fog, but it's undercut by the sense that the Grey Man doesn't have it in him to truly threaten the town. He'd be so much more forceful as an enigmatic mystery. He doesn't quite make the emotional journey that Willa does either, mostly serving as a walking plot device. I appreciated his epiphany in the end, but just felt that the book would've been stronger and scarier focusing totally on Willa. (Plus, his fate left so many lingering questions for me, questions that might not have occurred without reading passages in his point of view.)
I thought MISTWALKER was a fine atmospheric, short read. I liked the details of the setting and the relationships between the mortal characters. Saundra Mitchell continues to combine contemporary issues with paranormal activity in original, meaningful ways. MISTWALKER has some truly heart-wrenching moments, all leading to a wonderful catharsis.