At first, it took me a while to get going with this novel because it's in first person, my least favorite. And I was not aware that the setting was in a Mennonite town, my least favorite setting, as well. I don't know why I was surprised. Nancy's other books are in Amish/Mennonite settings. Maybe it was because the cover and the back cover copy didn't reveal it. Nevertheless, Nancy has a nice writing style so it was easy to enjoy this book.
Once I got my footing, I delved in. Wynter, the heroine, is searching for her missing brother, who has been missing for ten years. She's a reporter and is using her current story angle as a way to get into this Mennonite town to find him. It was easy to cheer Wynter on in her quest and to feel her angst.
The people there all seem to have some sort of secret and are possibly running from something they've done illegally, and I found it a bit weird that this religious town, Sanctuary, would be so full of people like this. I didn't know who to trust. But that actually increased the tension for me. Since this was a mystery, that's a good thing.
I liked the spiritual transformation that Wynter and her photographer, Zac, went through. They had already had a knowledge and belief in Jesus but had both strayed away from the faith because of the trials they'd encountered in life. So this was a different type of spiritual transformation than you'd see in a non-believer.
I had hoped that the romantic element would have included Zac instead of Reuben. The friendship that budded between them seemed to make way for romance because they developed a nice and healthy dependency upon each other. I didn't feel like there was enough reason for her to fall for Reuben. Maybe it was because the book spanned only a week's worth of time and I personally feel like it takes longer than that to say I love you.
In the end, I felt Wynter's choices (won't spoil the ending) were made because of her brother and because she wanted a change of pace, not because of her interest in Reuben. This book was more about the spiritual lives of the people and the mystery/suspense than the romance, and that's okay.
I was given a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I had previously read a series of Mennonite fiction by Nancy Mehl and enjoyed the books, but I think she has outdone herself with this new story. Gathering Shadows is a great start to her Finding Sanctuary series and left me anxious to read more.
Wynter, Zac, Reuben, Esther (as well as others) are well-developed characters who all make the story come alive. Although certain elements of the plot are pretty obvious from the beginning, there is plenty of suspense to keep the pace exciting all the way to the end of the book. Watching the growth of the characters in their faith and in their relationships adds an enjoyable depth to the story. The Mennonite influence is definitely a part of this story, but not necessarily the most important part.
An added bonus for me is the setting for the book. Although Sanctuary is a fictional town, most of the other towns mentioned in the book are real locations less than an hour's drive from the small Missouri town where I live. Relating to the places mentioned provides even more interest to a story.
If you think you would enjoy a visit to a small town filled with secrets, give Gathering Shadows a try. A word of warning, though -- you might not want to start this book until you have time to enjoy the whole thing. You will likely have trouble finding a good place to stop.
Thanks to Nancy and to Bethany House for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Nancy Mehl has done it again. Another great book set in a small town. I love how she takes these small towns, and makes them such a vital part of the story. This book was great, lots of mystery and I didn't know who was behind all of it, until the end. What a surprise, I love suspense because I love trying to figure out whodunnit, but this was a blindside for me. Great writing, great details. Awesome story 5 stars from this reviewer.
This book was provided for review purposes only, no payment was received for this review.
This was another great book by Nancy Mehl. I loved the mix of English and Mennonite. This is a nice quiet small town that can still have problems like the big cities. Both of the main characters learn a little bit about learning to live better lives. I look forward to the next book in this series. Had a hard time putting this down.
I received this from Bethany Hoouse blogger for a fair and honest opinion.