The Mill River Recluse Book reviews


Author(s): Darcie ChanDownload  


Disfigured by the blow of an abusive husband, and suffering her entire life with severe social anxiety disorder, the widow Mary McAllister spends almost sixty years secluded in a white marble mansion overlooking the town of Mill River, Vermont.Her links to the outside world are few: the mail, the media, an elderly priest with a guilty habit of pilfering spoons, and a bedroom window with a view of the town below.Most longtime residents of Mill River consider the marble house and its occupant peculiar, though insignificant, fixtures. An arsonist, a covetous nurse, and the endearing village idiot are among the few who have ever seen Mary.Newcomers to Mill River — a police officer and his daughter and a new fourth grade teacher — are also curious about the reclusive old woman. But only Father Michael O’Brien knows Mary and the secret she keeps — one that, once revealed, will change all of their lives forever.

Some Reviews: 1714 in

Claire Ridgway

Claire Ridgway rated it      

I came across this book accidentally when browsing through the Kindle store for fiction and I’m so glad that I found it. It has a wonderful mix of ingredients – small town life, nostalgia, mystery, love, hate and crime – all blended together beautifully and I like the way that chapters switch between characters and also switch between the present and the past.

Mary McAllister is the Mill River recluse, a woman who lives in her beautiful marble mansion and a woman surrounded by mystery. Her painful past is the reason she has become reclusive, but it doesn’t stop her caring about the townsfolk and wanting to know all about them and their lives. She keeps in touch through the only link she has to the town, the priest who has been her friend for decades. The book tells Mary’s harrowing story and it also tells the story of the townsfolk: the widowed policeman, the new teacher who’s come to the town to forget her past, the lecherous young policeman, the eccentric lady who makes potions, the priest and his unusual habit… They are each brought to life vividly by Darcie Chan.

The Mill River Recluse really is a wonderful read.

Sophie Moss

Sophie Moss rated it      

Wow. What an incredibly well-written novel. I can’t believe this is only selling for $.99. The story is captivating. The pace is fantastic. The characters are intriguing, likable and realistically flawed. The story is about a woman who suffers from social anxiety disorder and refuses to leave her house. Her fear of people prevents her from having any real relationships in her life save a life-long friendship with a good-hearted but quirky priest and a spunky, potion-making, free-spirited woman who the townspeople treat as an outcast. Despite her reclusiveness, the heroine still longs to fit in with the townspeople and she follows their lives the only way she can: by reading the newspaper, watching from her window and talking with the priest. The theme is about living on the outside, struggling to fit in, being afraid and ultimately overcoming and owning up to that fear. The ending is beautiful and fulfilling and heartwarming and I look forward to reading more novels by this author.

Shari Larsen

Shari Larsen rated it     

Mary McAllister is a widow who was disfigured by her abusive husband, and she also suffers a sever anxiety disorder. She spent her whole life secluded in a white marble mansion on the hill of the small town of Mill River. Her best friend is a priest who has a habit of stealing spoons.

Very few of the townspeople have ever seen Mary, but only Father O’Brien and Mary know the secret she keeps, and when it’s revealed, it will change all of their lives forever.

I really enjoyed this story, it’s “feel good” without ever feeling saccharine. I liked getting to know the townspeople, some of whom had their own secrets they were guarding. The plot unfolds slowly, but not so slowly that the story lags. My only complaint is that the story was a little too short! I enjoyed “visiting” the town of Mill River and wished I could have “stayed” a little longer.


✨Susan✨ rated it     

When a young woman living in a small community on her fathers farm, strikes the fancy of the local aire to a marble empire, he decides he must have her as his bride. She endured a misdeed at a young age that has left her with the inability to interact with almost anyone, so she is quite the challenge for this young man. He and his Grandfather finally get her to join their family and when her new husbands true spoiled nature comes out, all of her allusions melt away. He is abusive to her and their animals until one day after finding out he is to be drafted, tragedy strikes.

This story goes back and forth between the past and present which is done with finesse as it did not give me whiplash. A nice cozy with some brutal parts. Warning: there is torture to a horse, but it’s not a big part of the story.

Julie Greene

Julie Greene rated it      

This story had me hooked from the moment I read the overview and kept me hooked through the last page. Chan’s portrayal of the small town atmosphere and its citizens is dead-on…from the gossiping and nosy neighbors to the sense of community when something goes wrong. She draws you into Mill River from page one, and you will quickly “recognize” your own neighbors throughout the pages.

The story is so good that my 15-year-old daughter started reading The Mill River Recluse the day I purchased it, and I didn’t get the Nook back until she had finished. She couldn’t put it down!

I can’t wait to see what Chan has in store for us next!


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