"Ashley Ream has an absolutely astounding voice—she is one of the most compelling, sharpest writers working today. The 100 Year Miracle is already one of my favorite novels of 2016."
—Gillian Flynn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Gone Girl
Once a century, for only six days, the bay around a small Washington island glows like a water-bound aurora. Dr. Rachel Bell, a scientist studying the 100-Year Miracle and the tiny sea creatures that create it, knows a secret about the phenomenon that inspired the region’s myths and folklore: the rare green water may contain a power that could save Rachel's own life (and change the world). When Rachel connects with Harry and Tilda, a divorced couple cohabiting once again as Harry enters the last stages of a debilitating disease, Harry is pulled into Rachel's obsession and hope as they both grasp at this once-in-a-lifetime chance to save themselves.
But the Miracle does things to people. Strange and mysterious things. And as these things begin to happen, Rachel has only six days to uncover and control the Miracle's secrets before the waters go dark for another hundred years.
This tedious novel from Ream (Losing Clementine), featuring Rachel Bell, a biochemist and chronic-pain sufferer, chronicles her race to unlock the analgesic properties of a rare bioluminescent arthropod native to Washington's San Juan Islands before it can complete its six-day life cycle and fall dormant for another 100 years. Escalating doses of prescription drugs will kill Rachel within the year, so she's hoping the centuries-old legends are true and the tiny creatures contain a compound that can save her. Such research is outside the scope of her university-funded study, so Rachel sets up a private lab in the home of ailing island resident Harry Streatfield, who agrees to keep the scientist's after-hours project secret in return for access to her experimental painkiller. Ream squanders an intriguing premise on shallow characters, leaden pacing, and an unsatisfying conclusion. A tonally jarring subplot involving Harry's ex-wife, her affair with a younger man, and her restoration of a sailboat muddies the main story line and threatens to push the book out of thriller territory and into the realm of women's fiction.