Mistwalker was such a refreshing change of pace from all the young adult books out there that almost always feature romance in a big way. This instead focuses on family and friendships.
One of the coolest parts though is the Grey Man, the mysterious figure that lives on the lighthouse island. Today Saundra Mitchell tells us he came to be!
Read my review of Mistwalker
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In MISTWALKER, Willa Dixon’s quiet lobstering community of Broken Tooth, Maine has a legend living on the island in the harbor. If you can get the Grey Man on your side, you’ll have the best fishing of your life—or so the story goes.
That’s not quite the truth of it. It turns out the post of Grey Man is currently held by a boy cursed to take it in 1913. He’s just the latest in a long line of cursed Greys to haunt the island of Jackson’s Rock. He holds sway over the mist and fog, calling it or banishing it as he wills.
There’s other magic afoot in the lighthouse where he makes his home. The rooms change to reflect what he needs or what he wants. Each morning, he gets a wish granted—but it’s never a wish that would free him. Bound to the island, his body is insubstantial. It shears apart if he tries to leave, and dissipates into mist if he tries to throw himself off the lighthouse tower.
It was a pleasure to make up a new mythology for MISTWALKER, but I owe a debt to other legends that already exist. The one that sparked the idea for The Grey Man as the Irish an far liath. Also known as the Grey Man. it’s a trickster fey who calls in the fog to lure travelers to their death. From that, I borrowed the idea of a creature who used the mist to collect souls.
There is a Grey Man that appears on the shore of Pawlys Island, South Carolina as well. More of a ghost, he warns the families there of coming storms. The people of Broken Tooth have a traditional belief that the Grey Man can help them, and that’s a bit that I borrowed from Pawley’s Island.
The rest, I sewed together from random ideas—there’s a taste of the Phantom of the Opera in there, a little bit of Beauty’s Beast, and a touch of Hannibal Lecter. Grey in MISTWALKER was always supposed to be dangerous. Like an animal in a trap, Grey
When Willa Dixon’s brother dies on the family lobster boat, her father forbids Willa from stepping foot on the deck again. With her family suffering, she’ll do anything to help out—even visiting the Grey Man.
Everyone in her small Maine town knows of this legendary spirit who haunts the lighthouse, controlling the fog and the fate of any vessel within his reach. But what Willa finds in the lighthouse isn’t a spirit at all, but a young man trapped inside until he collects one thousand souls.
Desperate to escape his cursed existence, Grey tries to seduce Willa to take his place. With her life on land in shambles, will she sacrifice herself?