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The Haunting of Brynn Wilder


The Haunting of Brynn Wilder

From bestselling author Wendy Webb comes THE HAUNTING OF BRYNN WILDER, a companion to her highly acclaimed novel, DAUGHTERS OF THE LAKE, and a return to the mysterious and magical town of Wharton.

Settled on the coast of Lake Superior, the historic town of Wharton is unique in many ways. As a hidden gem amid the Great Lakes, it has an air of purpose for those who end up there. At the same time, it feels like a place of transformation because of its lake border. Brynn Wilder has just suffered a tremendous loss --- or one tremendous loss after another, really --- and is visiting Wharton on the recommendation of her friend, Kate (who readers may recognize from DAUGHTERS OF THE LAKE). The visit is meant to be a reset button on Brynn’s life, a chance to nurse her traumas and build herself up again before the school year begins and she goes back to teaching contemporary literature to college students.

"Wendy Webb weaves a searing gothic tale with elements of horror, mystery and romance.... While THE HAUNTING OF BRYNN WILDER is a quick read, it is incredibly absorbing and atmospheric..."

But Wharton has other plans for Brynn. Almost as soon as she arrives at her home for the summer, a quaint former boarding house run by an eccentric and warm woman named LuAnn, she learns that the town is recovering from its own tragedy. When LuAnn returned to Wharton after a winter spent away, she found the body of an elderly woman in one of her guest rooms. Despite the closeness of the townsfolk and the keen eyes of gossipers and gawkers, no one ever noticed anyone coming or going from LuAnn’s, nor did they ever see a light on, a curtain ruffled or anything else that would suggest that she had a visitor. Out of respect for the unidentified woman, LuAnn has kept the room boarded shut, but that doesn’t stop Brynn from feeling pulled to it.

As she adjusts to life in Wharton, Brynn befriends Jason and Gil, an older married couple; Beth, the local bookstore owner; and Dominic, the most enigmatic guest at LuAnn’s. Devilishly handsome and covered --- and I do mean covered --- in religious and symbolic tattoos, Dominic would stand out anywhere, but especially in quaint Wharton, where everyone knows everyone. As Brynn continues to find herself drawn to Dominic, strange occurrences push them closer and closer: banging in the walls, whispering voices and vivid, terrifying dreams. But things really start to get weird when Jason and Gil announce that they will be bringing Alice, Jason’s ex-wife, to stay with them. Alice is suffering from dementia and has become too much for her daughters to care for. Jason, still dealing with his guilt at the dissolution of their marriage, has volunteered to keep her safe and happy in her final years.

But Alice, like Wharton, seems to live in between. At times confused about her surroundings and her relationship with Jason, she appears relatively normal for her condition, give or take a few episodes. Until she doesn’t. Alice seems to be edging closer to the veil between worlds, and she knows things about Brynn that she shouldn’t, including inside jokes she shared with her deceased mother and when someone is about to die. As Alice’s pronouncements become more and more terrifying, Brynn finds her connection to the locked room growing stronger --- along with her intense bond with Dominic, who seems to be hiding secrets of his own.

Wendy Webb weaves a searing gothic tale with elements of horror, mystery and romance. As in DAUGHTERS OF THE LAKE, Lake Superior acts as an additional character, one with the power to change the fate of the citizens who interact with it. But Webb expands her focus to include the whole of Wharton, which seems to have some sort of pull over those who find it. Juxtaposing the mysterious nature of the veil between the worlds with the very real --- and deeply painful --- symptoms of those suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s, she crafts an intriguing and affecting mystery with real- and dream-world implications alike.

While THE HAUNTING OF BRYNN WILDER is a quick read, it is incredibly absorbing and atmospheric. The ghost scenes kept me reaching for my nightlight, and Brynn’s grief and feelings about starting over tugged at my heart. The ending may be predictable for some readers, but the journey getting there is still rife with surprises and twists --- not to mention a deeply emotional love story.

Reviewed by Rebecca Munro on November 20, 2020

The Haunting of Brynn Wilder
by Wendy Webb

  • Publication Date: November 1, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction, Gothic, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 287 pages
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 1542020123
  • ISBN-13: 9781542020121