A young girl named Madison has gone missing in a national forest in Oregon. Before too long, readers are below ground in a backwoods cabin cellar with the child as she tries to cope. Do not fear — yes, Madison is terrified — but she has a good imagination which allows her to disassociate, as well as plenty of resilience. Although we immediately hate her captor, we feel she will somehow be okay.
We also spend significant time with twenty-something Naomi, the “child finder,” as she slowly circles the case. But what makes this suspenseful novel different lies within Naomi. Her psyche is torn. She is not your usual investigator. You see, the child finder was a kidnapped child herself. I felt empathetic towards her plight. Naomi knows nothing much about what happened before she was placed in a foster home. Luckily her foster mother was kind. And Naomi grew up with a foster brother she adored. If kids can have kismet between them, she and Jerome have that. And now that they are adults, Jerome wants to court Naomi. Instinctively, she knows she must uncover the mystery of her own beginnings before she can (possibly) turn to Jerome and fully embrace him.
Madison and Naomi are not the only well-developed characters. We also begin to understand how “B”, Madison’s captor, a deaf fur trapper, became someone who would steal and abuse a child. The winter wonderland of the vividly depicted national forest becomes a proving ground for these three characters. Taut with suspense, yet lacking (thank goodness) the bloated, overwritten nature of many thrillers, the novel is richly compact. Make tracks into its snow and prepare to be captivated.
Keddy Ann Outlaw
A librarian for nearly 30 years, Keddy is also a veteran reviewer for Library Journal. Formerly an art major, she’s now busy making mixed media collages, prints and assemblages, and posting as “The Lone Star Librarian” on her website, Speed of Light.