A heartfelt novel of shedding secrets, facing the past, and embracing the magic of love and family by the Amazon Charts and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Where the Forest Meets the Stars.

After the untimely deaths of her aunt and mother, young Riley Mays moved from Chicago to her cousins’ Wisconsin farm. Here she found solace in caring for her extraordinary adoptive brother, exploring the surrounding wild nature, and gazing at the mystical moon—a private refuge in which she hides from her most painful memories. But ten years later, now twenty-one, Riley feels too confined by the protective walls she’s erected around herself. When a stranger enters her family’s remote world, Riley senses something he’s hiding, a desire to escape that she understands well.

Suffering from writer’s block, bestselling novelist Vaughn Orr has taken to the country roads when he happens upon the accommodating, if somewhat unusual, Mays family. He’s soon captivated by their eccentricities—and especially by Riley and her quiet tenacity. In her, he recognizes a shared need to keep heartbreaking secrets buried.

As the worst moments of their lives threaten to surface, Riley and Vaughn must find the courage to confront them if they’re to have any hope of a happy future. With the help of Riley’s supportive family, a dash of everyday magic, and the healing power of nature, can the pair let go of the troubled pasts they’ve clung to so tightly for so long?

Audiobook review

“Everything connects in ways we can’t comprehend.”

4,5 stars

It all begins with author Vaughn Orr, bestselling author at the young age of 28 being depressed, restless, adrift. His agent is pressing him for his next bestseller even if he has published four books already and two have been made into movies, with a third coming along.

Vaughn decides to go visit Wisconsin to look for a property to buy, far from crowded New York.

He’ll meet Riley and her eccentric family.

From their first encounter, we feel that Vaughn is fascinated with Riley while she distrusts him deeply.

Riley has been orphaned and came to live with her cousin who adopted her.

She is thinking of her dead aunt Julia a lot and Julia is mentioned so many times that she becomes an essential character of the book. Julia who found magic in everything and every day. Julia who was Riley’s guide. Julia who I wished I could have met in real life!

Vaughn will stay for a few days with Riley’s family.

At the beginning, we can feel that he has some contempt for their eccentricities. Kieran, Riley’s young adoptive brother who dresses like a girl and is creating magic taking apart clocks and remaking something with the parts.

Saatchi, Kieran’s mom and adoptive mother to Riley, the artist and painter who sees aura.

Alec, Saatchi’s husband who is a biologist and college teacher, fascinated with moths.

And even Colton, the family friend and real man of the woods when he wants to be.

That family is unlike any other, lives in their own world but they are just warm and beautiful. I just wanted to be part of their circle, to bask in their warmth. They felt real. They felt like friends to me.

I was angry with Vaughn, as Riley was, feeling his disdain for their universe, his disregard for their concern about climate change.

He came with his big Rolex, rich clothes and big wallet to these people who welcomed him in their house. So his attitude didn’t sit well with me. Especially when he pushed and pushed Riley to let him read her journal once he learned that she attended university to become a writer before quitting.

As you can see, there is tension at the beginning of the book.

But soon enough, Riley’s family will rub on Vaughn and he’ll broaden his horizon, soon thirsty for the magic and desperate to think that there could be some redemption in it for him after all.

This is my third Glendy Vanderah book and I became a big fan of her unique writing.

She has a way to make you believe in magic and paranormal even if her stories are “simple” contemporary and not fantasy. She also has you really “seeing” her characters and the setting of her story. That’s how gifted she is.

In The Oceanography of the Moon, she again intertwines a double timeline. The two main characters, Riley and Vaughn revisit traumatic events of their pasts, both bearing dark secrets. These secrets are so heavy they can’t go further with their lives. And that’s where we get some life lessons about telling the truth,  forgiving yourself of past errors to get on with your life. There is also a big take on the healing power of nature that I truly loved because walking in nature is my favorite self-care and soul therapy.

Riley and Vaughn’s meeting will be the catalyst to change, it will force them to face their nightmare and revisit their respective past.

I wondered for a long time how these two people’s fate were connected and when we got to the big reveal, for both their part, I was shocked! I didn’t expect that and I was also delighted that Glendy Vanderah tricked me!

Once again, that book was the perfect blend of secrets, mystery, family drama, magic and hope. I love Glendy’s prose and I will buy anything she writes.

Thanks for reading.


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  1. Love this review and this book sounds so touching! ‘forgiving yourself of past errors to get on with your life.’ is such an important lesson !

  2. Great review! This book sounds superb, and I am so pleased to see that it worked so well. I have a great fondness for authors that can capture and portray a setting and surroundings to the reader.