Thursday, June 11, 2015

Review: Let Me Die in His Footsteps by Lori Roy

Release date: June 2, 2015
Published by: Dutton
Source: ARC provided by publisher
Author links: SiteTwitter | Facebook

On a dark Kentucky night in 1952 exactly halfway between her fifteenth and sixteenth birthdays, Annie Holleran crosses into forbidden territory. Everyone knows Hollerans don’t go near Baines, not since Joseph Carl was buried two decades before, but, armed with a silver-handled flashlight, Annie runs through her family’s lavender fields toward the well on the Baines’ place. At the stroke of midnight, she gazes into the water in search of her future. Not finding what she had hoped for, she turns from the well and when the body she sees there in the moonlight is discovered come morning, Annie will have much to explain and a past to account for.
It was 1936, and there were seven Baine boys. That year, Annie’s aunt, Juna Crowley, with her black eyes and her long blond hair, came of age. Before Juna, Joseph Carl had been the best of all the Baine brothers. But then he looked into Juna’s eyes and they made him do things that cost innocent people their lives. Sheriff Irlene Fulkerson saw justice served—or did she?
As the lavender harvest approaches and she comes of age as Aunt Juna did in her own time, Annie’s dread mounts. Juna will come home now, to finish what she started. If Annie is to save herself, her family, and this small Kentucky town, she must prepare for Juna’s return, and the revelation of what really happened all those years ago.

Let Me Die in His Footsteps is a gripping Southern Gothic mystery about family curses, long-buried secrets, and how one young girl is affected when the past comes back to haunt her.

When this novel arrived on my doorstep, I wasn't sure what to expect. I hadn't heard of author Lori Roy and judging by the cover alone, I assumed that Let Me Die in His Footsteps would be filled with romance and angst. What I discovered is that young love is one of the themes of this story, but it isn't executed in a way that I would describe as romantic. The overall tone is dark and foreboding and the relationships are flawed and complicated in a fascinating way. 

The story alternates in time and points of view. It begins in 1952 with Annie Holleran and travels back to 1936 with Annie's mother Sarah and her Aunt Juna. I enjoyed these shifts throughout the story and how they slowly revealed how Juna became a name to be feared and the reasons for the feud between the Baine and Holleran families.

In the beginning, I thought this story may have a supernatural element. It's mentioned that the Holleran women possess the "know-how", a second sight that is passed down from mother to daughter. There also seemed to be something "other" in the way that Juna is described with her evil black eyes and the fear she instilled in everyone. But I wouldn't place this story anywhere in the fantasy category and if you're looking for something paranormal, this isn't it. 

Let Me Die in His Footsteps is a wonderfully-written mystery with compelling and complex characters. The storyline keeps a steady pace and the mystery leaves you in suspense. It's a delightfully dark tale of love and loss and secrets and superstitions. I highly recommend it. 


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