cover image Mistwalker


Saundra Mitchell. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-547-85315-4

Mitchell (The Vespertine) reaps the benefits and the drawbacks of an evocative setting in this exploration of the haunted traditions of a Maine lobstering community. Willa Dixon, the primary narrator, feels responsible for the murder of her younger brother, though she didn’t pull the trigger. She’s been barred from the family boat pending the outcome of the homicide trial. Lobstering is the only life she’s ever wanted, and not even a strong, sympathetic boyfriend or her lifelong friendship with the town’s one lesbian can divert Willa from her grief over family and exile. Legend has it that the Grey Man who haunts the local lighthouse can be propitiated for better fortune. Willa doesn’t think about it seriously until she sees a figure on the lighthouse island—and then a dory named Willa washes up before her. The fog, stink, and insularity of a Maine village are wonderfully described, but equally, the narrative creates thickets like, “Looks like those mokes on Monhegan aren’t the only ones on winter lobster,” requiring some intrepid Googling on readers’ parts. Ages 12–up. Agent: Jim McCarthy, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. (Feb.)