Book Review: The Mill River Redemption (Chan)

The Mill River Redemption

Author: Darcie Chan © 2014

Publisher: Ballentine Books

Genre: Literary Fiction

Subgenre: Women’s Fiction, Family Saga, Psychological Thriller

Reviewer: Sara

4.5 runner girls4.5 runner girls4.5 runner girls4.5 runner girlsRunner-Girl-FINAL-Purple-Left-HALF





Josie DiSanto fled New York City with her two young daughters for Mill River, Vermont to start over after her husband’s murder. When tragedy strikes again, it drives a wedge between her daughters, causing what may be irreparable damage to their relationship. Time, space and multiple attempts at facilitated reconciliation fail to result in reconciliation.  Only after the loss of their mother and the reading of her will do the sisters agree to come together. They move back to Mill River and embark on a hunt for the hidden key to Josie’s safe deposit box. While focused on the search for the key that leads to their inheritance, Emily and Rose find their journey ultimately leads them to a gift with far greater value.


Busy moms, let’s take a trip back to Mill River! If you liked the first one, you’re bound to enjoy the second installment of the Mill River series. First time? You’ll get caught right up in this world and the characters. Why? Ms. Chan’s writing moves the book with a steady, engaging pace. The characters are well-developed with believable storylines. Many of them become almost like familiar friends; you root for them, cheer their successes, mourn their losses and struggle with them through their challenges. In reading these books, I find myself ensnared in the world of Mill River and not readily willing to leave it behind.

The Mill River Redemption returns readers to the beloved town of Mill River, Vermont, this time following the stories of the DiSanto family. Readers who fell in love with the town and its residents in The Mill River Recluse will be pleased to find old friends in this second Mill River book. Familiar characters have prominent story lines but the overarching plot focuses on Josie DiSanto picking up the pieces after her husband’s murder and her daughters, Emily and Rose. The style of the book is consistent with the first in the series, with storylines that cross time and multiple perspectives woven together to create a reading experience. Ms. Chan has a knack for ending a chapter and holding the reader captive such that putting down the book and walking away is a challenge.

Consistent with Recluse, The Mill River Redemption includes a plot line in which one of the main characters struggles with a psychiatric illness. In this story, addiction colors the life of Rose, its pervasive nature affecting her decisions and actions. It’s apparent that Ms. Chan does her research before crafting a character with a mental illness. She handles the subject well, with respect and yet the honest truth of how difficult a disease addiction can be to acknowledge and overcome.

Readers beware (but not of any spoilers from me): There is a twist in the later portion of the book that initially threw me for a loop. Here’s my advice: Don’t read too many other reviews of this book! Knowing the twist may ruin your organic experience in reading it. I often try to give a book several weeks to months before I write a review of it, and this particular book is a perfect example as to why I developed this habit. It’s taken a little while, but I’ve decided I love the twist. Not because I like or agree with the actions taken by the character, but because it stuck with me. Made me think. Made me reflect on what I would do in a similar situation. Made me talk about the book and the story with others. Whether you agree or disagree with the actual details of the twist, that right there, its effect on me, is what makes the difference between a good book and a great one.


Thanks for reading! Have you read The Mill River Redemption? How did the twist go over with you? Comments and questions are welcome; please leave a note if you plan to add this to your reading list, and do let me know your thoughts after you reading it!


Note from author Darcie Chan: She has offered to answer questions from my readers! If you would like to ask her a question, please include it in the comments and I will forward them on to her!!


What’s coming up on The Mom Who Runs posting calendar?  I’m so glad you asked! 

This week you can join me for a coffee break with none other than NYT and USA Today best selling author of The Mill River series, Darcie Chan! Keep an eye on your reader, or if you’re an email follower, check your email on Tuesday for the link to the blog post!

Happy trails and may the good books be plentiful! 🙂


Featured image: The Mill River Redemption (cover)

  • Cover design: Marie Anastassatos
  • Dover image: Richard Tuschman

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