I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
February, 1946. World War Two is over, but the recovery from the most intimate of its horrors has only just begun for Annaliese Lange, a German ballerina desperate to escape her past, and Simone Deveraux, the wronged daughter of a French Resistancespy. Now the two women are joining hundreds of other European war brides aboard the renowned RMS Queen Mary to cross the Atlantic and be reunited with their American husbands. Present day. Facing a crossroads in her own life, Brette Caslake visits the famously haunted Queen Mary at the request of an old friend. What she finds will set her on a course to solve a seventy-year-old tragedy that will draw her into the heartaches and triumphs of the courageous war brides--and will ultimately lead her to reconsider what she has to sacrifice to achieve her own deepest longings.
This book was a total surprise. I thought I was getting a typical WWII historical fiction book about war brides and their stories 0f survival during the war. There is one thing the premise does not mention: there is a huge supernatural element. The main character from the present, Brette, can communicate with "Drifters" (i.e. ghosts). Even one of the POVs is that of a ghost. Pretty freaking awesome really. Brett comes from a family of people who can see Drifters. She has never gotten involved and she sees this as more of a curse than a gift. She avoids talking with them and even avoids eye contact if she can help it. But then she gets involved with a Drifter haunting the RMS Queen Mary (a site I really want to visit now that I have read this book) and she feels that solving this mystery will help with her own feelings about her abilities.
The mystery in this book went in a direction that I was really not expecting. Besides the present day Brette, we meet two very different women whose stories collide on the ship. Annalise is German and is running from a secret past. It also isn't easy to be German at the very end of the war because people's feelings are running high. Then there is Simone, the daughter of a French Resistance fighter in search of a fresh start after the trauma she has endured. The story kind of goes back and forth between the Drifter and the present day and the women on the ship and we get glimpses of the women's stories before the war and what led them to the ship. It sounds confusing, but the author did a great job and I never got confused with the characters or the timelines. It's hard to speak much more about the plot because I really don't want to give it away, but I will say that the mystery was so well done and the characters were so well developed. There was such a great blend of historical fiction with the supernatural. There were a few times when I thought I knew the identity of the Drifter or that I knew what happened on the ship, but I ended up being totally wrong. I loved that the ending surprised me. This was a great read and not as emotional as other WWII books, which is a really good thing. The book actually focuses most of the mystery on the events on the ship and those events take place right after the war. This is a great read and I highly recommend it.
Buy/Borrow/Skip: Buy this one.