In the Lonely Backwater by Valerie Nieman

 In the Lonely Backwater
 Valerie Nieman
 Regal House 
 May 2022
 ISBN: 978-1646031795
 HC: $18.95
 order here 

Not only does Valerie Nieman have a unique ability to flesh out interesting characters, but she also can draw the reader in with suspense, as well as increasing their genuine curiosity. Maggie Warshauer, In the Lonely Backwater’s main character, is a conflicted teenage girl with plenty of secrets hidden behind a sarcastic attitude. The story follows Maggie’s narration of the events that led up to and took place after her beautiful cousin’s death, a tragic event that shook Maggie’s small town. The story also details Maggie’s aspirations and fascinations with nature and biology, allowing her to escape the world around her. Living on a houseboat with her father by the marina, and having a sailboat herself, Maggie gives beautiful descriptions of the wildlife that surrounds her. These descriptions of nature allow the thriller to connect to Maggie’s coping mechanism of escaping through biology and wildlife. For example, Valerie Nieman makes the connection of the Greek myth of Andromeda and the flowers that were named after her, Andromeda polifolia, with Maggie’s cousin’s situation:  “As the distressed virgin cast down her flushing face through excessive affliction, so does the rosy-coloured flower hang its head, growing paler and paler till it withers away” (103). These subject differences allow the thriller to develop naturally all the while giving insight into the main character. In true psychological thriller manner, secrets are kept and guilt seeps through every sentence. Maggie grapples with her absentee mother, her alcoholic father, a new stalker, a persistent detective, and her own identity all the while trying her hardest to start a new life anywhere else. The story was very enjoyable and the twists the story provided  kept intrigue. Valerie Nieman throws the reader into the middle of a haunting narrative with suspense-driven language and plot that you can’t escape and don’t want to.

Leah Brennsteiner (she/her/hers)  is a senior at WVU. She is majoring in English (with emphases in Creative Writing and Professional Writing & Editing) and Women’s and Gender Studies. She works as a writing consultant/social media coordinator for the Eberly Writing Studio in addition to her internship at Change Seven. Leah enjoys reading, writing, running, and watching her favorite television shows on repeat. She grew up in Johnstown, PA with her mom, dad, two older brothers, a younger sister, and her wonderful dog, Molly. After graduation she plans on going to get her Masters degree in English and then work in a book publishing company as an editor. Her current book recommendation would be The Five People you Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom.