"The Language of Bodies" By Suzanne DeWitt Hall: Review/Giveaway

Review by Claire A. Murray

Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a signed copy of the book and a link to purchase it.

The Language of Bodies … an unusual title, yet author Suzanne DeWitt Hall never loses touch with the analogy in this powerfully haunting story of love, loss, grief, vengeance, and guilt. The writing is powerful and tender, tough and beautiful; it grabs the reader and pulls them into the story, compelling them to explore their own psyche as they both understand yet anguish over the main character’s desire for revenge against the harm it will do their soul.

To Maddie Wells, an eye for eye seems like the right punishment for Christopher Jackson who is in jail after confessing to murdering her wife Char, Charlotte Mitchell, a transgender woman of color. Maddie also calls Char Shimmy, a name that seems to reflect Char’s spirituality and perhaps Maddie’s adoration of her. Adoration? or guilt over not going to Missouri with Char? Maddie’s anxiety overwhelmed her at the last minute, and she abandoned their flight and abandoned Char despite her promise to go.

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Image Source Woodhall Press
Guilt and loss lead to Maddie’s desire for vengeance. She leaves Boston and moves to Missouri to manage the Wild West Wax Museum, an homage to several outlaws who outwitted death more than once. She’s alone there, the owners scuttling off to their retirement far away, so Maddie befriends Chip, the clerk at the convenience store across the street. Through him, she gathers information about Jackson’s wife, who still lives in the area.

We follow Maddie’s deliberate steps, sustained over the course of a year, to exact her revenge. For it’s not Jackson’s eyes or life Maddie wants. Even if she could take them, it wouldn’t be enough. Maddie wants Jackson to feel the pain she feels … the impotence and rage … the guilt. If she had boarded the plane, perhaps Jackson would not have been able to kill Char, maim her body, and remove her eyes. No, taking Jackson’s eyes wouldn’t still the rage in her heart. But taking his wife Sarah’s eyes and mailing them to him in prison … well, that seemed right, even righteous.

DeWitt Hall demonstrates an understanding of people who see, hear, or move through the world in ways other than mainstream. Duality is an experience and theme throughout, and the characters represent a variety of life experiences, from the guilt-ridden to the spiritual, the known outlaw to the contemporary lawless, and more.

We’re introduced to Maddie as she’s pretending to be blind. Seems odd at first, yet it surfaces that analogy—the language of bodies. She sometimes pretends to be deaf, too, and uses them as a shield to restrain emotions and reactions—listening or watching, seeing without being seen, hearing without being heard.

Char is Native American and African American, her beliefs blend Catholicism and Potawatomi spirituality, and she is masculine and feminine—never having had, or even wanted, the surgery to alter her male anatomy.

Chip appears to be on the autism spectrum. Hall effectively uses his mannerisms and observations to great effect, as his steady presence stabilizes Maddie’s world in Missouri as she maintains her outward appearance of a museum curator against the dark path she has planned.

Another stabilizing influence, even after Maddie is in Missouri, is Maria, an Italian mother figure whose blend of Catholicism and the mysticism surrounding Catholic saints provides spiritual insight beyond religious dogma. Maria always knew when Maddie would be coming into her shop, and she’d prepare food. They’d chat and eat, and they became friends.

Maria tells Maddie she is a good person. Maddie doesn’t believe her and knows there is a dark spirit within her heart that is leading her to do something terrible. Maria does not want Maddie to go to Missouri; she tells Maddie that closure is not the purpose of that trip. Is Maria really Maddie’s conscience? … her good side in a battle between desire and what her heart knows is right? Will vengeance or redemption prevail?

The Language of Bodies is DeWitt Hall’s debut fiction novel. She is a prolific author who writes children’s books and devotionals and is not afraid to explore topics about sex, God, theology, and spirituality even within the same covers. Author: Suzanne Dewitt Hall

Disclaimer: I received an advance reader copy (ARC) from the publisher to review the book. My review was not influenced by receiving the ARC.

To enter to win a signed copy of The Language of Bodies, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line "bodies,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen December 10, 2022. US residents only and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email please include your mailing address in case you win. If entering via comment please include your email address so we can contact you. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section in Kings River Life and in our mystery category here on KRL News & Reviews. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. And check out our new mystery podcast which features mystery short stories and first chapters read by local actors! A new episode went up this week.

You can use this link to purchase the book or click here. If you have adblocker on you may not be able to see the Amazon link:

Claire A. Murray is an Arizona fiction writer with thirteen published short stories. She is completing a suspense/fantasy novel so she can return to her trilogy, and has two novels awaiting revision. Find her at CAM—Writes.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. Looks and sounds terrific. I'd love to have a copy. Thanks! crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com

  2. I'd love to get a copy! tWarner419@aol.com

  3. Sounds like a complex and compelling novel!

  4. We have a winner!
    Lorie Ham


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