The Mill River Redemption by Darcie Chan ~ BLOG TOUR!

"Hope is a wonderful thing." 

Title - The Mill River Redemption
Author - Darcie Chan
Publisher - Sphere, Little, Brown UK
Publication Date - August 26th 2014
Format - (Paperback provided via publisher)

The blurb

Having unexpectedly lost her husband and lacking the means to support herself, Josie DiSanti and her two daughters take refuge in the small town of Mill River to live with Josie's aunt, Ivy. The sisters, Rose and Emily, are inseparable growing up - until a shocking tragedy tears them apart. 

Years later, Rose and Emily return to Mill River for the reading of their mother's will where they learn that Josie would do anything to force their reconciliation: the sisters must move into neighbouring houses for the summer and work together to locate the key to Josie's safe deposit box, which contains their inheritance. And so, left with no choice, Rose and Emily reluctantly begin their search. But in a place known for its magic and miracles, little do they know that an even greater treasure awaits them...

Becca's thoughts

Firstly, major thanks to the fabulous Clara Diaz from Little, Brown UK for sending me a copy of The Mill River Redemption and for getting me involved with the blog tour, which I am absolutely delighted to be a part of, by the way! And an even bigger thank you to the author Darcie Chan. I cannot put into words how much I truly enjoyed The Mill River Redemption, but in typical Becca's Books fashion, I'm about to rant and rave about it, and hopefully you'll be able to make some sense out of my rambling. So, here goes! 

I have to say, when Clara sent me the email asking if I'd be interested in reading The Mill River Redemption, I was a teensy bit dubious. It's not that it sounded rubbish or anything like that, it was just because it wasn't something that I would normally pick up to read. But, I thought what the hell, it's probably time I broadened my bookish horizons and dipped into something completely different to what I'm used to. And let me tell you something readers, I have never been happier about taking a chance on a book. Never.

Darcie Chan splits the narration between a number of major characters. First and foremost is Josie DiSanti, mother of Rose and Emily, and also widow. The story begins as Josie and her daughters are on their way to live with Josie's aunt Ivy in Mill River. It's a brand new start, and a fresh chance at life for all of them. 

The structure of The Mill River Redemption is absolutely breath-taking. Not only does Darcie switch the narrative between Josie, her girls, Aunty Ivy, and a number of other Mill River characters, but she also hops back and forth in time, too. I adored this, absolutely adored it. You were given glimpses of their life just starting out in Mill River, and then Darcie brought you back to the present day, where for some unknown reason, the sisters Rose and Emily now detest each other, and Josie's wake is being attended. There is nothing more delightful than being whisked back in time to a characters past, especially when the past and present are so powerfully different. It's incredible to read and experience, and Darcie did such an exceptional job of it. I really was stunned. 

I think Darcie created every type of character when it came to the people of Mill River. Of course, you have the main characters of the story, Josie, Rose, Emily, Aunt Ivy... But there was also Father O'Brien (Mill River's very own priest), Kyle (one of Mill River's police chiefs), Claudia (Kyle's girlfriend), Alex (Rose's son), Sheldon (Rose's husband), Daisy (a local woman who brews up potions). Honestly readers, there was just so much to get my teeth into! I loved the whole community atmosphere that Darcie created. It felt like one of those small towns where everybody knows everybody else, and it was incredibly easy for me to lose myself within it. 

When Josie DiSanti passes away and Rose, Emily, Aunt Ivy and a few other Mill River residents come together for Josie's wake, Darcie begins to let the reader know that something major happened before that point and the sisters cannot stand each other. You're constantly made aware of the glances and snide remarks that occasionally slip out. At this point though, you've already been taken to the past and seen how much Rose and Emily adored each other when they were children, and so, you can't help but try to imagine what on earth threw them so far apart from each other. The reason, once it is revealed to you, is both tragic and heartbreaking, and suddenly, the divide between them completely makes sense. Darcie is amazing at keeping you guessing as you read. She drops the most subtle hints here and there, almost as if she's teasing you and reeling you in once she knows that you're hooked. Which I was, throughout the entirety of reading.

When Rose and Emily are made aware of their mother's last wishes, they are horrified. What Josie wants them to do is live next to each other, and work together to unearth the hidden clues that will unlock their inheritance. Now, this would have been brilliant if the sisters actually liked each other, but as it is, they can't stand to be in each other's presence for more than a few minutes. I do believe that this part of the story, the part where Rose and Emily have to be together, was my favourite. They bicker and fight and argue, in true typical sister fashion, and I found it endlessly entertaining. 

The sisters, now that they are all grown up, are the complete opposites of each other. Rose, the eldest of the two, has an alcohol problem. She lives in a swanky pad with her husband Sheldon and their son Alex. For Rose, escaping from Mill River as soon as she possibly could was her only priority, so having to come back and actually live there wasn't something that she very happy about. It upset me actually, to see what she had become when I had already been introduced to this pleasant little girl who cared for her younger sister. Rose in the present day seemed to me to be a very bitter, spiteful woman, who was struggling underneath her guilt and regret for what happened all those years ago. I also found Rose to be very stubborn, mouthy, and loud. 

Emily, on the other hand, was quiet, polite and didn't lose her temper until she'd been  pushed right to the very edge by her elder sister. She didn't have as many material possessions as her big sister, so when she moved to Mill River to uncover the secrets of their mother's will, she arrived in her beaten up old car, with her dog Gus. Emily knew Rose had a drinking problem and couldn't stand it. Both sisters were gorgeous, and both had their own reasons for figuring out where their mother's inheritance was.    

I can't say how blown away I was with the emotional effect of this story. I have four younger sisters myself and so I know of the unbreakable bond that is formed. I can't ever imagine being in the same situation that Rose and Emily found themselves in, and so it really moved me and made me want to squeeze my siblings tighter. There is such a chasm between them, and just as much as Josie wished for them to come back together, I did too. I was hoping and praying that before Darcie closed her story, they would put their pasts (even though it was horribly difficult) behind them and start again. Besides the sisters though, I couldn't help but notice the constant thrum of family and love that laced every page. Josie would have done anything for her girls and you see this when Darcie takes you to the past. It was moving, bitter-sweet and gut-wrenching.

Beyond the love and the family feel of the read, there's also mystery and magic, which added such a beautiful touch to the setting of Mill River. Secrets oozed out of the pages and intrigue and mystery completely took hold of me. Darcie help me captive with the story of the DiSanti ladies, and she will do the same to you, too. Trust me when I say this readers, The Mill River Redemption will be one of those books that creep inside your mind and mess with your emotions, as well as your outlook on life. The message that popped into my head as I turned the last page is that life is too short for regrets, and that there's always time for forgiveness. The characters, the beautiful story, and the unique way in which it was told was staggering. I am so glad that I took a chance on this epic story and I am dying to read Darcie's debut novel The Mill River Recluse just to feel that magic once more. 

I think it's evident that The Mill River Redemption by Darcie Chan will be receiving FIVE cupcakes from me. I only hope and pray that myself and my own sisters stay as close as we are, and if a distance was to ever appear between us, I'd take a leaf from the DiSanti girls' book. 


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