Review

The Widow of Saunders Creek

by Tracey Bateman

Corrie Saunders can’t take another day of life in her wealthy parents’ upper class Dallas neighborhood. She is tired of playing the role of stoic war widow, hiding her feelings and holding back tears and mingling with her mother’s high society friends. She misses Jarrod. Six months after getting word that he died in Iraq while saving others from a suicide bomber, Corrie still aches for him every day. She would to anything to feel his presence one more time and get one last glimpse of his smile.

"THE WIDOW OF SAUNDERS CREEK is a quick-paced read with great imagery, a beautiful setting, intriguing characters, and plenty of eeriness for those who like paranormal activity in their novels."

Consumed by that desire, Corrie heads for Saunders Creek, Missouri, founded by her late husband’s family. There, deep in the Ozarks, she has a house waiting for her, willed to Jarrod by his grandmother. And there, maybe she’ll feel closer to him than she ever could in Dallas. But something awaits Corrie in Saunders Creek --- something as dark and powerful as it is clever, and it knows how to worm its way into the heart and soul of a grieving young widow. Lucky for Corrie, the power of Jesus can save her…but only if she chooses to step into the light and call His name. For the widow of Saunders Creek, heartbroken and deceived, the decision does not come easily.

While Corrie gets settled in, she hires Jarrod’s cousin Eli to make much-needed repairs. Eli is likable from the start, a man of faith who works as a contractor and runs a summer camp for children of military parents. The two quickly become friends, but Eli struggles with keeping his feelings from soaring beyond friendship. Corrie is, after all, newly widowed. His concern for her escalates as he realizes the “presence” that’s been in his grandmother’s house since he was a child is making itself known to her. Worse, Corrie believes it is Jarrod’s spirit, while Eli knows better. Unlike Eli, some members of his family profess to be mediums and witches, dealing in magic and practices condemned in the Bible. His grandmother was among them, and so the spirit dwelt there for many years. Now it is deceiving Corrie, praying on her vulnerability. Eli knows this demon must be abolished, but she does not have faith enough to make it happen. 

From her first day in Saunders Creek, Corrie senses a presence in the house. Could it be Jarrod? Corrie’s belief that the spirit is her late husband grows stronger each day, but so do her unexpected feelings for Eli. Still, she is determined to find out if Jarrod is reaching out to her, and solicits the help of Jarrod’s Aunt Trudy, a medium. Eli and his mother warn Corrie about going down this path, telling her she can call on Jesus to make the spirit flee. When the séance goes badly and the spirit later appears to Corrie in the likeness of Jarrod, she realizes she is being deceived. Her faith grows stronger, thanks to Eli’s wise counsel and the Bible from his mother. Corrie uses her newfound faith to rid her house of the spirit. She realizes that Jarrod is truly gone for good, and God will give her the strength to move on. Will he also give her a new love?

THE WIDOW OF SAUNDERS CREEK is a quick-paced read with great imagery, a beautiful setting, intriguing characters, and plenty of eeriness for those who like paranormal activity in their novels. Tracey Bateman presents a plot that keeps the reader turning pages, though a few implausible elements bothered me. For example, no one seemed freaked out enough about the house’s resident demon. Even when it slammed doors, frantically rocked the chair and relocated pictures, characters seemed to take in all in stride. I also didn’t understand the strained relationship between Corrie and her in-laws. She didn’t want anything to do with them until the end of the book, which I found to be an unlikable trait in Corrie. Otherwise, Bateman’s latest is a good, creepy romance.   

Reviewed by Susan Miura on June 21, 2012

The Widow of Saunders Creek
by Tracey Bateman