Darkness & Grace
by Kathryn Schleich


"How we had managed to do it all, I could not fathom. As we gathered at Goldenwoods in preparation for church, I looked forward to the message of hope more than ever."

Inspired by true events, Schleich's domestic thriller delves into the lives of the Pierson family by following the drama that ensues after Paul, one of the narrator's brothers, marries Pamela as his second wife. His family is ecstatic to see him finally getting back on his feet, as they were witnesses to his struggles and helped Paul through his depression after his first wife died from an illness. Little do they know that Paul's bad fortune isn't at its end when Pamela turns out to be a disastrous addition to the family. With her materialistic obsessions, cunning plans, and the breaking of the mask she puts on for everyone, the entire Pierson family is affected and will stop at nothing to fight for Paul.

As the plot progresses, the situation continuously spirals downward until almost the very end. Along the way, it's hard not to keep guessing which parts are true and which are fictitious. This makes the read even more engaging than it already is through its lucid and clean writing. Though the story revolves around Paul, the narrator is his older sister, which makes for an interesting angle to look through, especially considering she can sometimes be nosy with the instincts of a journalist. And though the constant barrage of conflict makes the story a bit repetitive plotwise, the twist at the end earns its keep and raises the question of a possibly unreliable narrator. This aspect may even prompt a reread in search of earlier clues. Either way, first read or second, the author's book remains a quick, fluid read.

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