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Reviewed by Divine Zape for Readers' Favorite
Melanie’s Ghosts is the seventh book in The Candy Cane Girls series by Bonnie Engstrom, a story that explores themes of loss, friendship, despair, hidden secrets, hope, and faith. It opens with a tragic event that breaks the protagonist. Melanie has lost her husband, and it happened a few hours after getting married. In her grief, she turns to her friends, but can Natalie even understand the depths of her pain and can Robert, who has also lost his wife to cancer, understand where she is coming from? Things get even more complicated for her when an old woman who claims to be Larry’s mother begins to stalk her and camps on her doorstep. Melanie knows something isn’t right: this woman abandoned her own child over thirty years ago. Robert, who seems to empathize with her, has his own deep secrets. Can the prayers of the Candy Cane Girls help stop the ghosts that haunt her?
Melanie’s Ghosts is a novel with hints of mystery and horror, but it is also a story of faith, one woman’s search for meaning and a healing connection through her grief. It is interesting how the author explores her psyche, allowing her inner pain to come out through the writing. At the heart of the story is the question: what is the cure for dark despair? This question is answered in a way that will intrigue readers. The protagonist is a sophisticated character, a woman who is emotionally and psychologically in tatters. Secrets are coming out and at unexpected moments. The author prepares so many surprises for readers and the suspense builds the tension as they follow the protagonist, wanting to know what happens next to her. Bonnie Engstrom caught my attention right off the bat and was able to keep it through each page until the exciting denouement. This is a well-crafted story with spiritual themes, a gripping story with a character that is like any one of us.