What a rare gem of a story! With an almost dreamlike, fairy-tale quality to her every word, Mia Sheridan weaves a hauntingly beautiful tapestry of darkness and light, love and loss, pain and atonement, with a tale that transports the reader to a place where true love never dies, and where a spark of hope can find its way through even the smallest of cracks in an old, stone wall. Set against the vivid background of the mystical city of New Orleans, this is the story of two lonely hearts who find safe harbour in each other’s arms, but as they work together to unlock a mystery from the past, they begin to discover that the greatest battles sometimes lie within us, and that is where they must be fought. As always, Mia Sheridan’s storytelling is exquisite, transcendent, soulful, and just stunning.
Clara had become captivated—perhaps even a little obsessed—with the tale of heartbreak and misery that had occurred more than a hundred and fifty years before.
Shortly after moving to New Orleans to pursue a career in ballet, Clara Campbell finds herself awash in loneliness and uncertainty, the company of an elderly neighbour becoming her only respite from the melancholy that threatens to overwhelm her daily. And it is during one of her visits to her elderly friend that Clara learns of a century-and-a-half-old legend held within the beautiful, broken structures of Windisle Plantation. From the moment Clara hears the story of a beautiful young slave who fell for a handsome southern soldier, and whose spirits are said to be still trapped in the very place where their love affair ended so tragically, she begins to feel a strange pull to Windisle, beckoning her to explore the secrets held within its shadows. But instead of finding ghosts there, Clara meets a mysterious stranger hiding behind its walls.
For now they were just a boy and a girl, sitting on opposite sides of a wall, a layer of thick stone between them, but their hearts connected nonetheless. And for now, he would enjoy the moments they had.
Jonah Chamberlain hasn’t stepped outside his old, crumbling family estate in eight long, grief-filled years. Holding himself responsible for the tragic events that led to his own scarred appearance, Jonah spends his days drowning in sorrow and loneliness, but from the moment he hears a young woman’s selfless wish whispered through the cracks in an old, stone wall, he becomes bewitched by her. They continue to meet week after week, spending time just talking, and sharing their innermost thoughts and fears with one another, even though that stone wall continues to stand between them.
“I regret. I just regret. I’ve made a career of it, here, behind this wall.”
As they slowly begin to piece the past together, getting closer and closer to setting the star-crossed lovers free from the curse trapping them at Windisle, Clara and Jonah also begin to fall in love. But it soon becomes clear to Clara that her velvet-voiced ‘wish collector’ might be living in a cage of his own making—never too far, but always far enough to be out of reach to her, their reality in so many ways echoing the very curse they are trying to break.
What an awful, desolate feeling, to know that the man who made your heart swell and your blood tremble was there, so close, and yet completely and utterly out of reach. What torture to wonder if he might be looking for you too.
The depth of emotion that Mia Sheridan is able to conjure on the page is breathtaking, her nuanced prose brimming with symbolism and sensuality, but her true gift lies in creating complex, fractured characters that have been bruised by life, but who find unexpected glimmers of hope and grace when they least expect it. The novel builds slowly with absolutely gorgeous language and setting, and with a dual timeline structure that sways gently from past to present, braiding the narratives together little by little, we unravel the past at the same time as the future unfolds before us. Both beautiful and tragic, this is the kind of story that sticks with you long after the final page.
“There’s a place for us, Angelina. Somewhere in this wide, wide world. Do you trust me?”