WHAT HAPPENED TO ROSE, BY HELGA ZEINER
PUBLICATION: POW WOW BOOKS, CANADA; OCTOBER 27, 2016
Synopsis: A mystery so shocking it needs to stay hidden
Carola’s life is perfect – or so it seems. Her husband, her friends, her staff don’t see the emptiness of a loveless existence. Every day is the same, until the day when she has enough. Without warning she leaves her home country of Germany to start a new life in the Canadian wilderness.
But she is not equipped to handle the hardships of a lonely existence in a remote cabin. A five-day snowstorm brings her close to her breaking point. Searching for means to survive, she discovers the written confession of the previous cabin owner who wants to clear his conscience by admitting to a terrible sin he committed involving a girl called Rose.
When the storm subsides, Carola begins to ask questions but nobody is willing to talk. Nobody wants to tell what happened to Rose, but Carola becomes obsessed with finding out the truth.
Will Rose finally get justice? If you love mystery and suspense, with an added romance bonus, this new novel by an Amazon bestselling author will keep you turning the pages all night long.
What Happened to Rose tells the story of Carola, who leaves her home and husband in Germany and moves to Canada. After staying with her friend Maria for awhile, Carola decides to find her own home and with the help of the handsome, young realtor Jason, she purchases a beautiful, small cabin. After suffering through days of isolation without power or heat, some neighbors drop by to check in on Carola. While hooking up a generator to help her through the rest of the storm, they discover a metal box behind a wall panel. Carola later begins reading the papers and learns that it’s a diary/confession left behind by the previous resident John McClure) outlining his life with his three sons and a young girl that they named Rose. Carola decides to start researching the man who wrote the pages and tries to find out the mysteries of the family, all while entering into a new romance and battling her husband back in Germany for what is rightfully hers.
First – what I really liked about this novel… I loved the story about John McClure, his three sons, and Rose. Much of their story was very raw, emotional, and honestly very troubling, however, I was very drawn to that story and what happened. It was different, unique, and I felt that the author revealed John’s character making him very vulnerable real. John’s story with the three sons and Rose was told through flashbacks, or actually letters, that Carola is reading in the present. The story is mysterious and suspenseful regardless of the span of time since the events had occurred.
An issue I had with this novel involved the overall character development. There was not a lot of detail about Carola and Peter’s separation leading to her leaving Germany. There was back and forth about who gets what in the divorce and I caught on that she felt that she was pushed aside in their company, but otherwise I wasn’t exactly sure what pushed her over the edge to leave the country. Then she arrives in Canada to stay with her friend Maria and Maria’s husband. Maria is extremely opinionated about Carola and Carola’s life, but I have no idea how they even know each other. Did they grow up together somewhere? Did they go to college together? The best way to describe it is that it felt like I was reading a sequel to a previous novel and that I should already know the back story about Carola’s life.
I was also puzzled by the quick romance and love that developed between Jason and Carola. The guy disappeared for days at a time with no explanation, they spent very little time together, yet they fall into this deep love for each other. I didn’t get it. Jason seemed like a nice enough guy overall, and was apparently attractive, but overall he just seemed “up to something” for most of the novel. Elsie, Jason’s mother, was a wonderfully creepy, scary character. Talk about the epitome of what you don’t want in a mother-in-law or just a significant others’ Mom… She was a mean, sneaky old thing but her character enriched the suspense in the plot and absolutely kept me guessing the entire time. Besides being eerily possessive of her adult son, she just behaved strangely and gave off very spooky vibes.
What Happened to Rose is a novel that very quickly pulled me in and gained my attention, but as the novel progressed I lost some of that interest and investment in the story. What began as a unique and compelling story turned somewhat silly as the story concluded. The detailed and suspenseful writing became almost rushed as if the author couldn’t figure out how to conclude the story so she just started wrapping things up with whatever came to mind. Perhaps it’s just because the characters went from being in such emotional and suspenseful events to everything being great, and that shift just wasn’t a smooth transition for me? Zeiner is a talented and imaginative writer that easily builds suspense and intrigue. This novel is full of mystery, suspense, romance, and plenty of family drama! This is an overall very good story that I am glad to have read, it was just somewhat disjointed.
*Thanks to the author for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Purchase What Happened to Rose on Amazon.
Learn more about Helga Zeiner by visiting her web page.