The Curse of Misty Wayfair written by Jaime Jo Wright was an unexpected surprise for me. I was originally interested in this book because it takes place in a small town in the Midwest and involves 2 characters that come to this small town a century apart. What I was so pleasantly surprised by was how much this story involved genealogy and the exploration of each of their pasts in order to figure out what was happening in their current lives.
Thea Reed 1908
The story takes place in Pleasant Valley, Wisconsin. We are first introduced to Thea Reed in 1908. She is a traveling photographer who specializes in memento mori, where a photograph was taken of someone who has died as well as the current family members. This was a way for people to commemorate the dead and at the same time help with the family’s grief. This is how Thea first met Rose and Simeon Coyle. Their sister Mary had recently passed and Rose wanted to have a picture of them together.
Thea has come to Pleasant Valley in search of her mother whom she never knew because she was abandoned as a child and adopted by a couple who taught her the photography trade. Her search leads her to look for answers in a local mental asylum where both Simeon and Rose work. She joins Simeon in a project of taking photos of the patients. As she meets one patient that recognizes her, she starts her down the path of learning about Misty Wayfair, a ghost that has been haunting the town for years, and perhaps of her birth mother who she knows so little about.
Heidi Lane Present Day
Jumping ahead a century later, we meet Heidi Lane who has received a letter from her mother, who is battling dementia, to come to Pleasant Valley to help with something only she can answer. As Heidi arrives in town, she sees her sister and isn’t quite ready to let her know she is in town, so she steps into an antique store and finds a vintage photo album that contains a photo of a woman who looks just like her. She asks the store owner, Connie Crawford, if she sees the resemblance and she certainly does. Heidi has no idea what to do with this information, but she buys the album and starts her down her path of finding out more about her history.
Heidi has suffered from anxiety most of her life, and it has caused her to escape from her family. The return to her family turns out to be as uncomfortable as she had feared. She is staying with her sister Vicki, at her cabins for traveling guests. That’s when the weird things start to happen, she is seeing a woman and nobody believes her. She is receiving messages at the cabins and when she is out around town. She goes to visit her mother at the care facility and she doesn’t understand when her mother is convinced she is dead.
As her mind is swimming she is distracted during driving and hits a dog with her car. A woman comes running out of a nearby house and is traumatized to see her dog injured. This is how Heidi meets Emma, who is autistic, her overly protective brother Rhett and surprisingly their mother Connie who worked at the antique store. This close-knit family accepts Heidi for who she is and works with her to uncover the reason why she is now seeing the ghost of Misty Wayfair and what family secrets she needs to understand. Something that her own sister Vicki won’t help her with and her mother can’t because of her dementia.
As The Curse of Misty Wayfair progresses we learn about both Thea and Heidi’s past and how they are connected with the legend of Misty Wayfair. This is a mystery story to keep you guessing as your learn so much about genealogy and what goes into a towns haunted past. Jaime Jo Wright does a great job with bringing all the characters to life and flipping the story between the past and the present to tell the story of Misty Wayfair. I highly recommend this book, and maybe it will get you thinking about your own family history as well.
Disclosure: Thank you to Bethany House Publishing for providing me with a complimentary copy of this e-book for review purposes. No other compensation was received, and all opinions are my own.