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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Evening in the Yellow Wood is a paranormal coming of age novel written by Laura Kemp. Justine’s childhood essentially ended one afternoon when her mother came and dragged her out of the community swimming pool where she was hanging out with her friend, Sherry. As her mom pulled into the driveway, she finally broke the news that Justine’s dad was gone. Her mom had no idea why or where, and the note her mom found added little to the mystery of his disappearance. He had indicated that one of his paintings had been sold, and he wanted the proceeds to be put towards Justine’s college funds, and he asked that they not try to find him. Justine would finish high school and go on to college as her dad had envisioned, but always there was that ache for what had been so abruptly torn away. Then, one day, a headline and a photograph on the front page of the local newspaper grabbed Justine’s attention. Her dad was in that picture and she was determined to go to Lantern Creek where the photo was taken and find him.
Evening in the Yellow Wood is unutterably transcendent and extraordinarily powerful. I was drawn into the story with the opening lines and loved every moment I spent following Justine as she leaves her familiar world and goes north to find her dad. The Northern Michigan setting cast its spell upon me, and it was only in remembering the harshness of winter that I was able to dissuade myself from considering a similar relocation in the future. Kemp’s characters are multifaceted and credible, and their interactions drive this compelling and remarkable coming of age novel as a quixotic adventure to find a long-absent dad becomes a life-changing reality. Kemp’s plot is original and complex. Mystery, the paranormal and cultural aspects add to the depth and intensity of this well-written and enthralling first novel. I’m looking forward to Laura Kemp’s next offering. Evening in the Yellow Wood is most highly recommended.