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If a girl looks into a well at midnight on the night of the half birthday between her fifteenth and sixteenth years, she’ll see the face of her intended.

Annie Holleran has always claimed she doesn’t put much stock in the ascension-day tradition, but that doesn’t mean she’s not going to try. Typically a girl would have her friends and family beside her as she looks into the well, and the well she’d be looking into is the one on Sherriff Fulkerson’s land. But Annie isn’t typical. No, Annie has long planned to sneak onto the nearby Baine property to peer into their well all by her lonesome. This in spite of the fact that Annie’s family has a longstanding hatred for anything and anyone Baine.

Unfortunately for Annie her intended is not the one she sees at all. Instead, Annie sees Cora Baine, dead in her garden. And Cora Baine’s death surely means the return of Annie’s Aunt Juna, the one who started all of the Baine trouble. The one who caused a Baine boy to hang for crimes some wonder if he even committed.

Let Me Die In His Footsteps is a dual narrative that alternates between 1952 and 1936. Annie, in 1952, lives with the knowledge that her birth mother is none other than the notorious Juna Crowley. It’s not something she’s ever been officially told, but it’s something she knows nonetheless. Annie’s mother, Sarah, narrates the story two decades prior, telling the terrible tale that led to Annie’s birth and the hanging of one of the town’s own.

At heart, Let Me Die In His Foosteps is a mystery – what happened to Juna, was the Baine boy really responsible, and why is everyone so scared of Juna’s return – but the book as a whole is so much more. It’s a story of secrets and tragedy, folklore and magic, community and – ultimately – family.

6/15 Becky LeJeune

LET ME DIE IN HIS FOOTSTEPS by Lori Roy.  Dutton (June 2, 2015).  ISBN 978-0525955078.  336p.

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