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Reviewed by Cecelia Hopkins for Readers' Favorite
The Unholy Mother by Enya Wolf sees Dr. Jamie Steiger give a live presentation regarding the discovery of an unusual crucifix and La Capitana, a wrecked Spanish galleon. Meanwhile, his wife Kim is at the villa struggling with the migraine headaches she experiences following a miscarriage. Protesters interrupt the presentation and Jamie is injured, requiring medical treatment. A strange man lays a curse upon him and his family. Kim self-medicates, and in a desperate state, considers drowning herself in the ocean. Fearing an intruder, she rushes to her son’s room and finds it empty. The consequences of that evening see Jamie and Kim separate, but they continue the search for their missing child. Can they find him, or has the unthinkable already happened?
The Unholy Mother by Enya Wolf narrates a disturbing story. I sympathized with Kim and empathized with her history of miscarriage and depression. I also liked the character of Jamie, the imperfect husband and father whose faults seemed so forgivable. I followed every moment of their search for the missing boy with an intensity that saw me responding to the suspense created by impossible hope. I enjoyed the survival scenes and the exploration of an island haunted by tragic mysteries. I may have gotten too close to the main character of Kim because I found the revelation toward the end incredibly confronting. The powerful writing had my mind in denial, desperately clinging to every coincidence in the plot, wanting to blame misfortune on the evil relic, or the madman and the curse. This story combines true crime and a psychological thriller to generate a dark tale worthy of a trigger warning.