Serena’s career as a high school biology teacher comes to a halt when an angry student makes shocking accusations. Stunned and suspended, Serena retreats to the forest where she usually finds peace of mind. But on this day she encounters a killer and his prisoner—as well as a stranger who dies to save Serena’s life.
The stranger, Christopher, had dedicated his life to rescuing girls from forced prostitution—starting with his sister Amber. They formed a tiny nonprofit organization to protect girls and have been working furiously to bring down John Roman, the powerful criminal who first took Amber and has ruined scores of young women’s lives since.
When Christopher’s grieving colleagues suspect Serena of being in league with Roman, her life spirals further out of control. How will she clear her name? Why did this stranger protect her with his life? And what is the meaning of the visions she sees every time she visits the gutted house where he died?
Erin Healy returns to the thin places in her newest novel about sex trafficking in the United States. It starts with a teenager angry over his grades going to his uncle for help. It will end in the take down of a major name in the world of child prostitution. In the process, a woman who thought she knew about the bad side of life will learn more than she ever wanted to about the sex trade. Stranger Things is edgy and tackles a difficult subject. We know about sex trafficking in far off places such as The Philippines, but who wants to admit it happens in their own backyard?
The supernatural element is connected to a house burned in the recent Station Fire in the Angeles National Forest. As Serena and Christopher approach the house – at the same time but separately – they notice an abundance of orange fire poppies, which they realize are growing out of season. Both will experience visions of a house made whole, a place of sanctuary for a group of women. For someone else, though, the visions aren’t so comforting.
Stranger Things is the second novel by Erin Healy I’ve read and, just as with the first, there are elements I can’t begin to understand or explain. This is not a light read either. While acts of forced prostitution are not described there is enough written to make a stomach turn. It is difficult to realize that there is such evil in the world. It is also sad to contemplate how many parents neglect their children to the point that the children are caught up in this nightmare while just wanting a better life. Despite the disheartening descriptions in Stranger Things however, there is also an underlying message of hope. This is a book I definitely recommend.
Thank you to Thomas Nelson and Booksneeze for my free copy of Stranger Things, which I received in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: 31 December 2013
Page Count: 368