Release Day Review: A Light in the Forest by Melissa Payne


From Melissa Payne, bestselling author of The Night of Many Endings, comes an emotional and suspenseful novel about the weight of secrets and the healing power of friends and family.

Vega Jones escapes an abusive relationship with nothing but her two-month-old baby and the van she grew up in. Her destination is a small Ohio town her late vagabond mother left years ago. It’s one full of nobodies, her mother warned. That makes it the ideal refuge for Vega to lie low, feel safe, and maybe learn more about a past her mother never spoke of.

Vega warms to the town and to new acquaintances like Heff, the young deputy and artist who prefers his yard art to actual policing, and empathetic Eve, a local farmer whose near-death experience gave her more than just her life back. But even in this welcoming community, there’s an undercurrent of something unsettled, talk of a tragedy that unfolded in the woods years ago, and a mystery connected to Vega in ways she couldn’t have anticipated.

As a mother on the run and following a path of mounting risks and illuminating secrets, Vega discovers that even during the darkest of times, there’s light in unexpected places.

**ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review**

I really liked the deserted small-town setting of this book. The characters were interesting but I couldn't really relate or connect to them. I thought the story was interesting and there were a couple of twists that I saw coming. I enjoyed how the main character Vega found a home in the town of Crystal while she was running away with her baby. Also, the support of the characters who she meets in this town was everything. I especially loved Eve and her big heart.

The mystery in this story was well done, and I looked forward to discovering if I was right about certain things. The writing was great and the story was easy to follow and understand. Overall, I thought A Light in the Forest was nice and the author did a good job of keeping me intrigued until the end.


Photo by Eric Weber Studios

For as long as she can remember, Melissa Payne has been telling stories in one form or another—from high school newspaper articles to a graduate thesis to blogging about marriage and motherhood. But she first learned the real importance of storytelling when she worked for a residential and day treatment center for abused and neglected children. There she wrote speeches and letters to raise funds for the  children. The truth in those stories was piercing and painful and written to invoke in the reader a call to action: to give, to help, to make a difference.  Melissa’s love of writing and sharing stories in all forms has endured.  She lives in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains  with her husband and three children, a friendly mutt, a very loud cat, and the occasional bear. 

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