13 May 2014

Review: Gathering Shadows by Nancy Mehl

Mystery in a Mennonite Town

Wynter Evans is an aspiring journalist with a Missouri TV network, on assignment in the tiny Mennonite town of Sanctuary with her colleague, photographer Zac Weikal. But she’s got another motive: she’s searching for her brother, Ryan, who was kidnapped several years earlier. Reuben King is the young and handsome mayor of Sanctuary, who agrees to work with Wynter despite opposition from some of the townspeople.

Gathering Shadows starts off as a predictable romance in an Amish/Mennonite setting, but soon turns into something more. It’s written entirely from Wynter’s point of view. As we get to know her better, her past begins to collide with the present and we start to realise there is more of a mystery than whether the mystery Mennonite boy is Wynter’s long-lost brother. Why don’t the townspeople want her in Sanctuary? And who is leaving her mysterious notes?

It’s a plot that grabbed and kept my attention, both in the mystery and the strong characters. The Christian elements were solid but not preachy. I especially liked this quote:

“Believing someone’s words, whether it’s a person in our lives or God himself, only comes second to knowing their heart. If you understand someone’s heart, you can believe what they say.”

I liked this because it reminded me of the Bible study I’m doing this year, based on Woman's Guide to Reading the Bible in a Year by Diane Stortz. Each week, Stortz asks, ”How did you experience God’s heart in this week’s reading?” Gathering Shadows illustrates the importance of that question. It’s not just about knowing God intellectually. It’s about knowing Him personally. Anyway, back to the book review …

The one weakness of Gathering Shadows was the romance. It took a long time to get started, and I wasn’t convinced they spent sufficient time together to form a lasting relationship—or that there was any chemistry, and it might have been better with no romantic subplot at all. However, the mystery-thriller aspect of the plot was excellent, and I’d certainly read more books by Nancy Mehl.

Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free book for review. You can find out more about Nancy Mehl at her website.

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