Grief often brings us together, but at times it will eat at the very fabric our our souls. Each must deal with loss in their own way, to come to terms with their own mortality. In The Halo Effect by Anne D. LeClaire we meet Will Light and his wife Sophie. Life has been kind to them, and their daughter Lucy rounds out the circle of love.
Yet, one day Lucy doesn’t come home. Days later her body is found deep in the woods. The initial pain of the loss brings Will and Sophie together, but Will is angry. He cannot get past the anger and rage of someone taking their daughter. Sophie finds her own way to deal, by getting involved in finding lost children and bringing them home.
They no long communicate, and the anger only builds. Still, their marriage is not at a crisis point, one that Will does not want. But he is unable to move on.
When Sophie takes a break, and goes to the beach with a friend for the summer, Will suddenly understands that he is driving a wedge between them. Yet, he cannot control the rage that runs through him.
When Father Gervase asks him to paint portraits of the saints for a new cathedral, he is not interested. Yet Father Gervase is insistent. Slowly Will finds interest in the project, and as he chooses those who hold the look of pain, he finds a way to make them shine with saintliness. Unknowingly, his project will take him to places and to meet people that he cannot have imagined.
One of his models possesses something of Lucy’s that she would never part with. Will is incensed, wanting to act before speaking. Yet he finds that there is no guilt in this young student. Little does he know that the evil is lurking very close and that his questions and curiosity which have taken over some of the rage, is bringing the evil to light. Will he find the answer before one of Lucy’s best friends dies?
LeClaire has given us darkness, and evil, but finds a way to grace though the light of love. Her characters are your neighbors and friends, and the circumstances they experience happen all too often. She creates fierce, independent thinkers, and finds a way to tie in the events that shape them all. You grow to know and enjoy the individuals, and begin to understand their pain.
If you enjoy stories of people threaded with suspense and danger, you will find this The Halo Effect fits the criteria. The beauty of the paintings and the interaction with the priest ads a glow of greatness to a darkened soul. The story is dark and yet a twist of lightness shines through giving you hope for those involved.
This would be a great book for a reading group or book club, with lots of interesting thought for debate.