Mattie's memories of her mother and the warmth that her house once shared are palatable...I feel as if I know Mattie's mother, and her father is just as well-developed. Her sisters, friends, uncles, teacher, neighbors - each are critical pieces to the development of the plot and are so rich and dimensional, I would readily a novel written from the perspectives of each.
The murder-mystery surrounding Grace Brown is actually the least interesting sub-plot binding this novel together; this statement is meant as a complement to Donnely's writing. She's developed a cast of characters whose ordinary lives and struggles are just as gut-wrenching and page-turning as an action-packed murder mystery.
I loved, loved, loved the ending and how the plot was parceled neatly its well-wrapped package. Endings that tie to the beginnings always do me in...I love the small revelations I have during the moments after the last line of such books are read. Jennifer Donnelly did that for me, and that's why I'm giving this book a ten out ten stars and an exuberant "thumbs up".