Book Review: The Second Mother

THE SECOND MOTHER | Jenny Milchman
08.18.2020 | Sourcebooks
Rating: 4/5 stars


Julie Weathers has been stuck in a life she never thought she would be leading and is in desperate need of a new beginning. When she finds an ad for an opportunity to be a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse on a remote island in Maine, she knows she has found her chance to flee her old life. The island is home to a close-knit community filled with lobster fisherman. As Julie starts her position as teacher she comes to suspect that life may not be so idyllic on this remote island. There are secrets here that may just put Julie’s life in danger.

THE SECOND MOTHER is an atmospheric, slow burn mystery that transports the reader to an island filled with intrigue and deception. I absolutely adore the way that Milchman was able to bring this community to life and turn the island into the perfect setting. I was completely swept away with the claustrophobic feelings I felt while reading this story both in terms of the island as a whole and the isolated house Julie has taken residence in.

In addition to a fantastic setting, THE SECOND MOTHER offers up a great cast of characters. Our main character is Julie, who has quite a few horrible things in her life that she needs to overcome. It was refreshing to see a narrator who was working to better their lives instead of someone who was simply portrayed as unreliable because of their life events. In addition to Julie, the island has some fantastic, multilayered characters that help to build the tension of this story. Shortly after Julie’s arrival it becomes clear that there are a lot of secrets being hidden on this island, but it’s not clear what they are. Oh and did I mention there’s a creepy kid who could possibly be terrorizing Julie? Yep! One of my favorite ways to be creeped out are weird child characters in crime fiction. 

The pacing of THE SECOND MOTHER is on the slower side, but something I felt matched perfectly with the actual plot. This isn’t a thriller, but more of an atmospheric suspense story. I do think knowing this going into the book helps to set expectations. There are also a few parts that felt repetitive at times, but overall I felt the story flowed and progressed quite smoothly. THE SECOND MOTHER is perfect for fans of atmospheric crime fiction!

This book is available to buy from: Amazon | Book Depository

A huge thank you to Books Forward PR and Sourcebooks for my gifted copy!

Disclosure: What Jess Reads is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This in no way influences my opinion of the above book.

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