Mystery on Widow Island
by James Malcolm

"The secrets Alice held were so unfathomable, no one would ever believe her story if she ever chose to share it."

Unexplained break-ins, sightings of naked people roaming the island, and a lost child taken into foster care may all seem to be random incidents, but they turn out to be connected. Alice, a widow living on her private beach, soon finds herself involved. She provides refuge and aide to the strangers who have “washed up” on her shores, but her biggest task yet is keeping their identities a secret. Can Alice help her new friends before evidence points back to her?

Part mystery, part fantasy, this contemporary story set on Harstine Island, Washington, aims to provide a little bit of magic, wonder, and excitement in otherwise everyday life. By playing with already existing lore and mythology, the author gives readers a refreshing take on merfolk and how they operate in the human world. The characterization of the mermaids is perfectly blended between the author’s imagination and their legendary traits. Because of the author’s skill at conveying the scenery and lifestyle of Harstine Island, it can be said that this short fantasy story could only take place in this setting.

While a few scenes tend to get bogged down by dialogue, the novel moves pretty quickly when it comes to establishing the story’s movement. Part of the story focuses on Alice’s relationship with her new friends and trying to integrate them into society temporarily. This serves as a way to create tension and heightens the mystery elements of the novel, especially when other island residents cross paths with the merfolk. Overall, it’s a light, entertaining read with a satisfying conclusion.

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