Title: The Unholy Mother
Author: Enya Wolf
The Unholy Mother begins in 2008 as the Steiger family lands in the Bahamas. Dr. Jamie Steiger is a renowned archaeologist who is set to launch a TV show about his exploratory adventures. His wife, Kim, and their young son, William, have traveled with him as a semi-holiday. Kim has mixed feelings about the vacation. She has recently suffered a miscarriage and while getting away from home is welcome, her time away from Jamie leaves a void. She also has serious reservations about the dynamic between Jamie and his agent, Sydney. Kim’s concerns and Jamie’s publicity tour soon take a backseat to a harrowing drama as William disappears. The authorities focus their investigation on Kim, but Kim maintains her innocence and William stands by his wife, despite his own lingering doubts.
Author Enya Wolf wastes little time in stating her intentions in this riveting story. A breaking of the fourth wall by one of the narrators relays how polarizing this story will be. The chapters alternate between the perspective of Kim and Jamie Steiger. The disappearance of their young son William forces a painful evaluation of their tenuous marriage. The dramatic interplay between Kim and Jamie both before and after the events in the Bahamas are on different wavelengths. A devoted love has now dissolved into a fractured marriage.
The predominant themes which play throughout the story are love and trust. Kim loves her family, but views Jamie’s agent as a homewrecker. She doesn’t have a wholehearted faith in Jamie’s fidelity. Jamie loves Kim, but the disappearance of William doesn’t completely sit right with him. If Kim did something to Jamie, it is the ultimate betrayal of trust and Jamie’s love for Kim may be gone forever. Wolf writes the characters’ mindsets well enough to have the reader’s trust be thrown for a loop as they question everything.
Kim Steiger is a contrast of emotions in this story, a loving wife and mother capable of devolving into an insecure and emotionally-drained shell. The specter of depression lingers over Kim’s head. Jamie Steiger appears as a loving, but not fully committed, husband and father as career takes his concentration. The tragedy they endure alters their dynamic. As time elapses, Kim possesses more determination in life, while Jamie is more unsettled in his feelings.
The story primarily consists of Jamie and Kim Steiger. One of the shortcomings of the book is a lack of development of Sydney, the target of Kim’s jealousy. Sydney figures into a crucial part of the beginning of the story and then is excised. The distrust of Sydney would have been more tangible if there had been a scene between her and Kim.
The Unholy Mother is a psychological mystery that is transfixing but also leaves an emotional impact. The underlying mysteries that span the duration of the story will keep the readers on their toes. The back-and-forth accounts between husband and wife heighten the increasing tension as the story progresses to an excellent conclusion.
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