Miranda Warning, by Heather Day Gilbert (Heather Day Gilbert, 2014)
After the depth of character, plot and setting of Heather Day Gilbert’s Viking historical novel, God’s Daughter, I had high expectations for her new novel, Miranda Warning. This one’s a contemporary suspense set in the mountains of West Virginia. Different characters, different issues, different voice. Same skill that drew me to keep reading.
Miranda Warning tells two stories in one, tying them into one satisfying ending. Tess is a young woman whose best friend, Miranda, is in her 70’s. When Miranda gets a letter in a dead woman’s handwriting, Tess starts asking questions.
The bulk of each chapter is in the first person, as told by Tess. However, each chapter opens with a third-person, past tense segment from 40 years earlier, narrated by Rose, the dead woman.
The warnings turn into threats, but Tess is determined to protect her elderly friend. Tess is a strong yet vulnerable character. She and her husband, Thomas, live in a cottage behind his family home. Tess loves her in-laws; they’re the family she never had. But she hasn’t been able to find work, and now she’s pregnant. And she doesn’t measure up to her mother-in-law’s talent of baking and decorating.
Although the suspense is the main plot, I found it interesting to see hints of how Tess’ self-comparisons kept her from realizing her true worth. How often do we, as real people, fall into this trap? It was also fun to watch her as a young bride under the combined stresses of the mystery, her husband’s long hours on the job, and pregnancy hormones. Tess didn’t see a positive example of marriage as a child, so she’s figuring this out as she goes along, with her in-laws as proof that a marriage can last.
Some of my favourite lines:
His piercing gaze reminds me of those hawks I see staring at small birds from the fence posts. [Kindle location 250]
I love the tactile experience of walking in the woods. Its muted browns, grays, and greens comfort me. The moss and leaves give softly under my boots. Large, scattered rocks feel permanent and unshakable. The pull of the mountain is like gravity for my soul. [Kindle location 1196]
This must be how you make your marriage work for years: you fix things and move on. [Kindle location 3234]
Heather Day Gilbert plans to release another Viking novel, Forest Child, as well as to continue her A Murder in the Mountains series. For more about the author and her books, visit her website: heatherdaygilbert.com. If you missed it, here’s a link to my interview with the character of Nikki Jo, Tess’ mother-in-law.
[Review copy provided by the author.]