“The clock ticked more, only this time Willa didn’t count with its rhythm. She watched the branches of the tree between the windows and the funeral home, realizing finally that the picture she held was taken beneath it. She’d known it all along, but somehow didn’t connect the image with the actual tree until right now, from this strange vantage point. The dirt clinging to her shoes had been the same dirt of the empty memory” [pg 90].
If two words could sum up The Muir House, these two would be two excellent candidates. Willa Muir is a young woman undone by the holes burned in her childhood landscape, holes that have allowed the color to drain from any thoughts of a bright future.
Blinded by anxiety and longing to better understand her history, Willa keeps others at arm’s length, unable to imagine happiness or the promise of something whole. She feels fractured and broken. With love interests struggling to understand her heart, Willa bobs untethered and yet, strangely needy.
The mysteries open wider when Willa is called to her girlhood home, the Muir House, to put her interior design skills to work. Will her efforts within hollowed out rooms point her toward the answers she so longs for? Or merely serve to make the silence pound more loudly?
The theme present in so many of Mary’s books include a character trapped and stalled by secrets, striving to pull back the thick curtain of mystery and loss. She consistently adds depth and layers to her characters by thrusting them into situations that force them to face their fears, their weaknesses, and their most bare questions. With each of her books, I am awed by Mary’s ability to craft a plot line packed with twists and turns and sprinkled with just the right cast of characters to support those twists.
Her strong “Christ-Figure” characters are compassionate, patient, and unconditional in their love. The Muir House was no different. I found Hale to be a compelling example of this “Christ-likeness.” Furthermore, the push-and-pull in his Hosea-like relationship with Willa kept me wondering how their love story would resolve.
Mary’s strengths in storytelling lie in her ability to showcase healing. Whether it’s a battered wife in The Defiance, Texas Trilogy or a mother grieving the loss of a daughter in the same, Mary inches her characters toward the knowledge that Jesus offers new beginnings and a clean slate. That He desires wholeness and restoration.
The Muir House expertly weaves in each of these components while telling a story about choosing to emerge from the shadows. If you are someone struggling to escape the tangled memory of a painful childhood or battling to rise above relationships that aren’t what you wish they were, Mary’s writing will be a balm for your soul.
There’s nothing better than a book that that takes the reader from darkness into glorious light.
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Thank you to Mary DeMuth for the opportunity to review this book. I was privileged to receive my copy from Zondervan Publishers.