WHAT SHE INHERITS is a novel of two parallel stories that ultimately cross paths: two females struggling with the memory of difficult mothers and the demons of their own ambitions and doubts. When Angela returns to her childhood home after the loss of her mother, she is confronted with the haunting memories of that pervasive maternal voice – one which she slowly deconstructs as a toxic, over-powering force as much as it was a defining influence of who she became. As she loses sleep in the days and weeks after her mother’s death, she begins to explore the sounds and shadows of the past, manifested in ghostly sounds and sights she witnesses in St. Nabor Island, a place she long ago left behind.
Simultaneously, Casey has found a way to build a shadow existence managing a small inn on Devil’s Back Island. She too is haunted by the past and its cast of characters, and handles it by escaping into a private, reclusive existence, hoping to never cross paths with a familiar face again. Yet, she is as unlucky as Angela when it comes to running from demons and escaping the taunting voice of unresolved pains, mistakes, and memories.
Vacillating between two storylines and two rich, complex characters helps to keep this narrative alive – especially where it falls victim to summarizing and departs from sensory scenes and exciting present moments. While the stories are of awakening, growth, and spiritual exploration, they also explore the themes of childhood neglect, toxic relationships, and inner turmoil. These universal ideas will reach readers of many ages and experiences, as the mother-daughter bond is as complex a topic as any.
The book offers redemption in the third act, as each woman’s story culminates into discoveries that change them forever. Learning sudden revelations about the past shakes up each adult woman’s entire perception of her childhood, her history, and the choices that led up to her present moment. Diane Mulligan writes her best chapters where she delves into scene and ditches summary, utilizing dialogue, rich description, and present tense action.
In all, WHAT SHE INHERITS is a successful, rich read of self-discovery, and interwoven narratives keep the pace quick and ever-shifting. Southern coastal scenes paint a rich landscape of rocks, ocean, trees, and natural surroundings which enhance the experience of these characters’ lives. Similarly, seances, mediums, and other mystical themes keep the story edgy and dark, building mystery and intrigue until the very end.
~Megan Roth for IndieReader