Mistwalker by Saundra Mitchell

Genre: Fantasy, paranormal
4.5 stars.

This book is everything I have tried to capture in my own writing for years and years and years–from secluded fishing village settling to compelling, family-driven characterization to the ocean as a primal and ancient power. I have tried to write this story so many times, and so many times I have not come close to achieving what Mistwalker has. The prose is both haunting and beautiful, a lamenting tone that perfectly captures Willa’s grief over her brother’s murder as well as Gray’s anguish of his magical imprisonment and the impossibility of escape. The references to Hamlet and to “She moves through the fair” fit so perfectly with the haunting tone where land and sea and history blend into the mist of time. The idea of the same family lines stretching back for hundreds of years mirrors the curse of the Gray on Jackson’s Rock, and is so in sync with everything I have ever tried to write.

Most of all, this book is not a romance. Reading the synopsis, Mistwalker definitely has the trappings of a cliched paranormal romance, yet it is anything but. Willa is one of the strongest female characters I’ve read in recent YA, and she does not turn into a simpering mess over a man. She is concerned with the well being of her family and that justice be brought to her brother’s murderer. Gray is not interested in Willa romantically–it is very clear that his intentions are selfish, that he will do anything to get himself off the island. Everything is gray and uncertain as the mists that Gray controls–from the ocean, to the old boats, to the sky, to the dilapidated light house, to both Willa and Gray’s futures. Nothing is black and white, no one is good or evil.

I highly recommend Mistwalker, particularly if you are a fan of fairy tale type retellings as well as intricate looks into characters’ lives.

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