Book Review: The Mill River Recluse (Darcie Chan)

The Mill River Recluse

Author: Darcie Chan

Publisher: Originally released in eBook form in 2011 by Darcie Chan. Wide release (including print format) in 2013 by Ballantine Books


  • Fiction: Women’s Fiction, Family Saga
  • Mystery: Psychological Thriller


Mill River, a quiet town in Vermont, holds charm and secrets like any other small community. It attracts people looking for a fresh start, including teacher Claudia Simon, and police officer Kyle Hansen. Among the upstanding citizens are those who would take advantage of their neighbors: an arsonist determined to catch the attention of a woman, thieves and malicious family members. Unique and central to Mill River are its ties to a wealthy and powerful family, and the mystery of the woman who lived alone in a mansion above the town for decades, her only interactions with the local priest.

The Mill River Recluse is a well-paced novel with multiple stories lines told through multiple characters. Many authors attempt this technique, but few pull it off so well. Ms. Chan has crafted a hook to snag readers right away and leaves off every chapter with enough intrigue to keep you reading, knowing you’re likely to move to another character’s perspective, possibly another story line with the next chapter. She unfolds the story, layer by layer, building tension and anticipation throughout.

Is some of the story predictable? Yes, but not in a bad way! The malicious characters get their comeuppance and the ones you’re rooting for have their happy endings.  Is this a literary masterpiece? No, probably not. But if you’re looking for a heart-warming story with intrigue and a fresh voice, this may be a great book for you.

I loved this book and had a hard time putting it down. I would recommend it to every busy mom who enjoy stories about internal and interpersonal struggles, and those that have the ending so many of us hope for in life. This book took me to a world I would revisit again, in this story or another by Ms. Chan. I hope you enjoy it, too.

4.5 runner girls

4.5 runner girls 4.5 runner girls 4.5 runner girlsRunner-Girl-FINAL-Purple-Left-HALF


Happy reading and happy trails!

Reviewer’s note: I found this book after an acquaintance I made at the James River Writers’ Conference in Richmond, Virginia shared with me the link that I have included below. Ms. Chan embodies the publishing success for which so many writers strive. She started out having her manuscript declined by every publishing house she queried (via an agent), then realized tremendous success after self-publishing and became a sought-after author. She shared her experience with publishing in this blog post.

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