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Myth and superstition swirl through the Kentucky hills, adding a sinister bewitchment to the daily lives of those who live there. Especially folks like Annie Holleran, who've been blessed/cursed with the "know-how," which "floats just above the lavender bushes, trickles from the moss hanging in the oaks, drifts like a fallen leaf down the Lone Fork River, just waiting for someone ... to scoop it or snatch it or pluck it from the air" (2). Like her mother before her, Annie "feels things that aren't hers to feel" (13-14), a spooky skill that makes even the silliest of mountain rituals seem heavy with meaning. Naturally, then, Annie's a little apprehensive about what she's about to do. When girls in Hayden County reach their ascension day (exactly halfway between their 15th and 16th birthdays), it's time to gather at the nearest well. According to legend, when they gaze into its depths, at precisely midnight—the face of their future husband will be revealed. It's ridiculous, of course, and yet, Annie can't resist this bit of foolish fortune-seeking.
The nearest well to Annie's home lies in a place she's forbidden to go. Hollerans do not cross the lavender fields, don't dare to step onto Baine property. Not since Juna Crowley, Annie's mother, came of age 16 years ago and used her particular mountain magic to ensnare the best of the Baine boys. Ignoring every warning, Annie heads for the well. What she discovers there is not the identity of her intended, but a dead body. The corpse of a Baine.
Annie's grisly discovery stirs up an old mystery that cuts to the heart of the Holleran/Baine feud. As the lavender harvest nears and the past comes calling, she knows trouble isn't far behind. Terrified that Juna will return to cause even more damage, Annie waits with dread. Somehow, she must save her family and her community from the witch who cursed them all, but how can Annie do that when she carries her own horrifying secret fear—that she is just like her mother, the infamous Juna Crowley.
Atmospheric and haunting, Let Me Die in His Footsteps by Lori Roy is a tantalizing Southern Gothic mystery. With a vivid, evocative setting; authentic, interesting characters; and plenty of complex, compelling family drama, if offers a tense, suspenseful story. Overall, its a sad story, almost overwhelmingly depressing. That, plus the sometimes confusing back-and-forth-in-time narration, made the novel difficult to read at times. In the end, I found Let Me Die in His Footsteps intriguing, but not as enjoyable as other books I've read in this genre.
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for language (no F-bombs), violence, and mild sexual content