My first experience with an S.S. Bazinet book came during my year of intense reading of books with vampires as the main characters. My journey started with Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Before reading this classic, I never considered the extensive role the vampire played in literature. I decided to conduct a year-long study. A vampire story would be my NaNoWriMo project for 2016. In my journey, I came across S.S. Bazinet’s Vampire Reclamation Project Series. I became a big fan of her writing. Thus, I decided to read and write Traces of Angels: A Book Review.
The approved mentioned work is the second installment in the Open Wide My Arms series. Traces of Angels is a stand-alone book, but I recommend reading Traces of Home first. Both books are enjoyable reads. Plus, it’s always nice to start at the beginning when reading a series.
Quick Synopsis of Traces of Angels
Chicago surgeon Matthew Howell and physician Eric Lloyd are driving to Elkville in a blinding snowstorm. Matthew hates the small town in the Appalachian mountains where his father-in-law built the Lloyd-Howell Clinic. He is starting to doubt his marriage to Lea. He and Eric are also edgy with one another as they white-knuckle the drive through the storm. They run off the road, and their survival is in question.
Elkville becomes a magnet for people experiencing emotional trauma. This climate frames Bazinet’s specialty style of writing. She throws her characters into a whirlwind of negativity before rescuing them with an insight into self-discovery, which brings emotional healing.
Lea has a meltdown after Matthew is rescued. She disappears in the storm without wearing her coat. Her fear of being drawn back into her former personality drives her away from the people she loves. Margaret Lloyd is on the verge of leaving Elkville. It is the only life she has known, and she would like to explore other options.
Ned Finney is struck by a car. He discovers he can no longer continue with his belief that feelings don’t matter. His father, John, comes to talk with him and discovers that he can’t run from his past. He has an encounter with a strange elderly man in a cabin in the woods. Paul Glass experiences a heart attack after a confrontation with Ned. He goes back to Chicago to recover. Teresa takes a trip to Elkville to join her husband, Eric. She also has issues that need to be resolved from her childhood.
Key issues in Traces of Angels
All of these people are suffering emotional turmoil, which needs to be resolved. Bazinet is also skillful at showing how the mind and body are connected in the wellness process. All of the people who converge in Elkville have to recover from their emotional issues before their bodies can heal. Some of the people will decide to stay in the small mountain community longer than planned. In comparison, others will go back to the lives in the world beyond the Appalachian Mountains.
Highlights found in Traces of Angels
There are many parts of the book that stand out for me, but two occurrences seem to shift the story. The first is the introduction of Jacob into the plot. He comes to the clinic with his sister and father after the mother stabs them. The small boy becomes attached to Matthew. Later, when Mary brings Jacob back to the Howell’s for an extended stay, it propels the story in an unexpected direction.
The night John spends in a mountain cabin with a mysterious older man became another highlight for me. The experience he has there helps in his healing process with his son, Ned. The strangeness of the man leads one to think he might be a ghost or perhaps an angel.
Story Development used in Traces of Angels
Bazinet has a talent for digging deep into the past of each of her characters, which develops the conflict that moves the story along. Her stories are always emotion-driven. The plot involves the healing of both body and mind of these individuals.
This situation is the case for the people who find themselves in the small community of Elkville. Margaret and Eric Lloyd are longtime residents of this small rural mountain community. Margaret’s deceased husband served as the community doctor until his death. The other characters in the story come to Elkville as part of the medical facility Lea’s father, Raymond Ferguson, built. They all bring past hurts that need to be healed before helping the community they want to serve.
The conflicts buried in each of the character’s past propel the plot of the book.
Worldbuilding in Traces of Angels
I’ve traveled to the Appalachian Mountains many times. (I once spent a week in a West Virginia hospital recovering from surgery due to a broken humerus. Rooster fell on me, but that is a story for another time.) My husband and I have ridden motorcycles on many of these mountain backroads. On our travels, we’ve met many of the people in the area. Folks like to talk to motorcycle riders.
I mention my experiences because I thought Bazinet did a fantastic job building the world of Elkville. Her descriptions of the terrain and small mountain community rang true to this reader’s ears. I could picture some of the roads we traveled as I wandered through the pages of this book.
Magic system found in Traces of Angels
The reader will find a supernatural element scattered through the book that moves the plot in the book along nicely. Both Eric and Matthew have premonitions. Matthew has only recently discovered this ability. He isn’t sure he likes the idea. Eric also is a healer, which can be extremely helpful if you are a doctor.
There is also a magic element to the appearance of the old man. He seems to show up for people in times of crisis. It is unclear if he is a ghost or an angel. I feel that question will be answered in another book yet to be written in this series. One clue might be at the end of Traces of Angels when Lea says she can see traces of Matthew and Jacob’s angels. (If you want to know why she makes this statement, you have to read the book.)
Evaluation of the characters found in Traces of Angels
Bazinet is a master at writing character-driven stories. The people you find in Traces of Angels are intriguing. The reader will feel like they know them by the ending of the book. This writer has a way of digging deep and exposing her character’s personalities, warts and all. She also splendidly heals many of their inner conflicts, making them people the reader would like to know.
Overall opinion of Traces of Angels
This reader enjoyed the adventure of diving into this book. As I mentioned before, I am no stranger to S.S. Bazinet’s work. This book is an enjoyable read on its own merits, but I highly recommend reading Traces of Home. The first book in the Open Wide My Heart series.
The only thing I would like to see developed more in this series is the people who are native to the small mountain community. I would like to see them come out of the woodwork to become full-fledged characters in this series., and I think Bazinet might be on the verge of doing that with the introduction of Mary and Jacob. I can’t wait to read book three to see what direction she takes the story.
Other books by S.S. Bazinet
Open Wide My Heart series
Traces of Home
Traces of Grace
Vampire Reclamation series
You can find these books and others written By S.S. Bazinet on Amazon.
Who is Molly Shea?
Molly Shea is an accomplished fictional short story writer from Indiana who writes short stories and novels about a fictional town called Tecumseh. To read more of her short stories and adventures, click here.
Be sure to follow Molly on Twitter!