The Ozark mountain setting for The Widow of Saunders Creek by Tracey Bateman caught my attention and I was ready for an all-American down home story. What I got was a romance with way too much emphasis on the "spirit" presence for my tastes. Young widow Corrie has inherited her deceased husband's grandparents' house near Saunders Creek. Still devastated by his death in Iraq, she decides to remodel the house partly because she believes moving there will bring her closer to Jarod. She begins to believe that the unusual occurrences such as doors slamming and the sounds of footsteps when no one is present are indications that her husband has not left her.
When she learns some of Jarod's extended family believe in the healing arts and others actually practice witchcraft, she feels torn. Her Christian upbringing, despite her adult laxity, never addressed spirits. And Eli, Jarod's cousin, who you will quickly target as the love interest, warns Corrie spirits can and do represent evil.
In fact, he is certain what Corrie is feeling is the presence of a demon.
I would like to give this book a high recommendation for a couple reasons. Basically, I want to like a book with a setting just miles from Branson. Also Eli is a strong character with a good heart. His lifelong competition with cousin Jarod who we only know as deceased is an interesting twist. There is an interesting side story of Corrie rediscovering her passion for art which she had given up for Jarod. Unfortunately, I just felt uncomfortable with this book. I know that the young adult market is filled with fantasy titles and contemporary plots "peopled" with characters who are werewolves, vampires, or such. While this title is not in those camps, I see it as a Christian title book that is trying to pull in some of those readers. Its journey into the occult-Christian battle is not as strong as say,The Exorcist, but there is a present battle, certainly generations old.
It certainly was not "my cup of tea" even if it was brewed with fresh herbs for Eli's mother's natural foods shop.
I received a review copy of this title from WaterBrook Press. I am not required to write a positive review and all opinions are my own.