Dawna and John Temple have moved to West Virginia from Pittsburgh to slow the pace of their lives and reclaim John’s health. As they get to know their new home, Dawna finds herself walking down a country road, not far from her house.
She sees a sign warning her of a witch on the other side of the creek. Dawna crosses the bridge anyway, and admires a house and property that she assumes must belong to the alleged witch.
Later, Dawna and John talk to their friends, Denny and Laura Sue, who have plenty of gossip and rumors to share about the witch.
Not one to give in easily to the sway of gossip or superstition, Dawna ventures back across that bridge and meets Suzanne Miller. They develop a friendship built on respect and honesty, with one caveat. Suzanne isn’t ready to tell Dawna how she earned her reputation right away, but promises to do so when the time is right.
Dawna isn’t fond of the talk about Suzanne and thinks people treat her unfairly. When she’s summoned to learn the whole story, however, it marks a turning point in her life. Suzanne’s past and the present collide, with devastating consequences for all.
To say too much more about the plot risks venturing into spoiler territory. This is a sneaky read. It has a quiet, unassuming way of slowly weaving the threads together. It builds in intensity. One of the things that stands out is how Canon humanizes Suzanne. There are no stereotypes or caricatures at work here. Suzanne is equal parts woman, friend, witch. She is resigned and bereft and caring. Dawna is inquisitive, loyal, determined. Perhaps those are characteristics that once defined Suzanne as well … perhaps the reason why the women bond … perhaps the reason why their fates collide.
And perhaps Canon’s greatest strength is in showcasing how what seems to be normal can be a gateway for evil. How what’s done out of pure intentions and loyalty can unleash unfathomable horrors with unforeseen consequences. Canon is a horror writer to watch. The genius of her work is that it’s so realistic it isn’t hard to believe in these possibilities. And that alone should make you afraid to go for walks in the country.
Oh, and buy this one in print so that you can enjoy that breathtaking cover.