Wynter Evans is an up and coming reporter for a TV station in Missouri. Her past intersects with her present when she sees a photograph of a boy with a remarkable resemblance to her brother. Using her job as a cover, she travels to Sanctuary, Missouri to hopefully find the boy and answers. She makes some friends in town, and with their help begins to unravel a series of secrets that reveal what not only what happened to her brother, but also her own past. Through the course of the novel, Wynter is able to learn more about herself and how to trust those around her, and find a deeper faith.
Mehl’s novel is quick to draw the reader in with a desire to discover what happened to Wynter’s brother. The clues woven through out the novel hint at the explanation, but never give it away, all the while, the reader learns even bigger secrets. At the beginning of the novel, with the first mysterious happenings, the reader has to wonder what connects everything together, and the characters are wondering the same thing. It was wonderful to try to puzzle through the mystery of this novel.
The town of Sanctuary was developed quite well. It was a unique setting and a joy to spend time there. The characters that made up the town were as unique to the town as the town was. The minor characters were fun to catch glimpses into their lives, as well as to the reasons they decided to make Sanctuary their home. Hopefully in Mehl’s next “Finding Sanctuary” novel we will meet more.
It is always nice to read a novel in which the dialog does not seem forced. The characters speak so naturally in this novel, it is impossible for them to not pop off the page. For myself, dialog is one of the first things to pull me out of my imagination when reading. It is difficult to continue on when the things characters say don’t feel real. The opposite is what happens in this novel. I felt like I was listening on on legitimate conversations.
My main complaint about this novel is some of the narrative. I frequently felt like small details (not crucial ones to the story) were dropped in randomly when they weren’t necessary or important. It made some of the narratives feel a bit disjointed and didn’t read as smoothly. However, this seemed to even itself out towards the end of the book. Either that, or I was absorbed into the story enough to no longer notice.
Secondly, the romantic aspect of the novel did not feel quite realistic. Things felt like they developed very quickly… probably too quickly. Because of the pacing with this part, it was hard to not constantly look for ulterior motives in Reuben King, even though there was no reason to. He was difficult to get to know, and since the entire novel is from Wynter’s perspective, it feels like she shouldn’t know him very well either.
The elements of faith in Gathering Shadows sends a strong message. At first while reading it, I felt very preached at and was a bit turned off by the writer. However, as the story progressed, the faith of the characters was able to shine more. Their actions and natural comments spoke much louder than the heavier messages the book started with.
This was definitely a novel that I’m glad a stuck with. It took me a bit to get caught up in the story, but about a third of the way in, the story made me want to continue reading it, and some of the problems I had with it in the first place went away. I could focus on the story. If you love a mystery and intrigue this is a great novel. The romantic aspects of it are not overpowering, even if they seem to move quickly. I would recommend the novel to anyone who is interested with the caveat to not give up on it. The mystery of the novel is worth it to keep going.
**I received a copy of this novel from the publisher for my honest review and opinion**