Retribution Ridge by Anna Willett

Retribution Ridge by Anna Willett
Publisher: The Book Folks
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (159 pgs)
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

A small hiking group in the wilderness – with bloody revenge for company

Milly has barely spoken to her sister Judith in years. They hardly exchanged a word at their mother’s funeral. They could not be further apart.

So when Milly gets an invitation to go on a hiking trip, she hopes it will be an opportunity for reconciliation. Inviting her school-friend Harper along with her for support, the small party head off together into the bush.

What awaits Milly is far from just a bracing hike in the wilderness, but an unexpected encounter with the past. The form it takes is revenge. But who is enacting it against Milly, and why?

One night changed Milly and Judith’s lives forever.

Milly and Judith used to be close, but one foolish mistake shattered their sisterly bond. Ten years later, the death of their mother has sparked the desire to reconnect. Milly is nervous about Judith’s invitation, but willing to try. Unfortunately, from the moment Milly arrives for the hike, something seems off. Judith isn’t acting like herself. Milly pushes aside her discomfort and convinces herself that her uneasiness is simply a result of her and Judith’s estrangement. Milly should have listened to her instincts. The past is lurking in the shadows of the wilderness. Will Milly and Judith escape unscathed or more damaged than ever?

The author has an amazing hand at writing suspense. I found little to fault with the storyline itself.  However, I’m sorry to say I didn’t find any of the characters very likable, particularly Judith and her girlfriend Harper. I always felt Judith was keeping something from Milly. Unfortunately, my suspicions were confirmed, and it made me dislike her even more, especially because Judith has knowledge of Milly’s somewhat fragile state of mind. Once everything is revealed, Judith’s actions and Harper’s complicity are completely inexcusable. By the time they express remorse, it is already too late. Judith and Harper’s actions have placed them all in the path of predators who have no intention of letting any of the women leave the trail alive.

I think Milly is the most likeable of the bunch. While I never truly warmed up to her, I did feel a great deal of sympathy for her. Milly is far from perfect, and she certainly has mistakes she needs to atone for, but she went out to meet Judith genuinely hoping to mend their broken relationship. The tension between the sisters is heartbreaking. There is so much distrust between them that every word spoken is analyzed and second guessed. I kept thinking that a conversation between two mature adults could have fixed this. They could have gone to therapy or had some kind of counselling. A hike in the wilderness seemed like an ill-conceived plan from the start, but I respect Milly for leaving her comfort zone and accepting Judith’s offer.

Despite my issues with the characters, I must say that Ms. Willett did an excellent job of building and maintaining suspense throughout this page-turner. From the moment the group sets out on the hiking trail, the danger is palpable and only increases as the story progresses. The pacing is quick and very well done. Ms. Willett does a great job of blending snippets of the past in with the present so that it all comes together seamlessly in the end.

Retribution Ridge is definitely one of the most intense stories I’ve read in a while. Fans of suspense should certainly give this thriller a try.

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