Sally Saylor De Smet delivers her debut novel Pages in the Wind on a silver platter. It is a compelling novel devoted to the complexities and many facets a troubled mind is capable of delivering.
Emily Quinn is trapped in her mind. She is the surviving twin sister of Penelope Quinn. Penelope died and left Emily to navigate the tenuous waters of a family rife with issues. Her brother Robert is her anchor, but is no longer there for her. Her father was a diabolical work of evil and had mastered the art of traumatizing Emily. Her mother is a captivating beauty—the conduit to Emily’s beauty. Yet, she is a shell of an existence. Daddy dearest controlled all of their lives.
At the tender age of nineteen, Emily faces the rest of her life within the confines of prison walls. After brutally stabbing her father to death, she is incarcerated and her journey toward salvation and answers to the ‘why’ begin. In her first session with psychiatrist Daniel Lieberman, the ground rules are established. It is Dr. Lieberman’s job to determine why Emily did what she did through their weekly sessions of regression therapy. Emily’s purpose is to explain why she did what she did. Early on, Dr. Lieberman becomes sympathetic to Emily as the details of her egregious childhood are exposed. As time unfolds, he learns of the constant abuse—both physical and emotional this young woman had endured.
As the weeks transpire, Lieberman digs deeper into the layers that make up Emily Quinn. His job is to push ever so gently as the two travel further into the dark abyss of her life. Emily is resistent to liberate the self-imposed blocks on her psyche, but realizes she must free them. Her salvation is to move beyond the fact she has murdered her father and she must learn how to overcome her formidable act in order to learn how to embrace her life going forward.
Sally Saylor De Smet delivers an (at times) heart-wrenching story of a little girl who never had a chance. Through artfully scripted prose she paints a picture of a troubled family unit—unit being an oxymoron at best. The characteristics she assigns to each of the four familial characters are extremely well-developed and I found myself often wanting to jump in between the pages and accost the father, in particular. The mother is a passive existence of life and the brother and dead sister, in my opinion are the fortunate ones as they were able to escape—one to college; the other by death. Smet’s clinical nuance to the psychiatric sessions between prison doctor, Lieberman and inmate, Quinn are fascinating. There is a natural flow of Smet’s pen when they are conversing that allows the reader to be an active listener to the session as he or she reads on. This story has no drag whatsoever and the voice of compassion Smet maintains throughout the entire novel is tremendous. I look forward to this writer’s next novel. It is abundantly clear she has found her calling in life and should continue to embrace the natural writing ability she has. Her audience will welcome the next after reading Pages in the Wind.
Quill says: Pages in the Wind is a superb example of how an outstanding novel of compassion and grit is written!
★★★★★ "A page-turning psychological thriller that grabs the reader's attention right from the start. The premise of the novel promises a dark and gritty story. And the author delivers. If you enjoy well-crafted thrillers that will make you cry, hold your breath, and ruminate, give this book a chance. There are plenty of twists and turns to keep you wanting more." SPR Review, 5 Stars.