Muriel is first mentioned by name in the forest boy's thoughts in the introduction.
In the Grunwald Library archives, Kelly comes across a letter penned by Muriel to her deceased husband Timothy.
The Letter in Full
It feels so silly writing to you about this. How far gone am I that the only person to whom I desire to speak has already gone before the Lord? But the words fly about within me. And the high, singing voice rings in my head over and over, telling me that all is lost and I am unfit. I fear that if I do not get the words out on paper, I will dash my head open on these bars to let them free.
Grunwald has fallen to hysteria, and I will soon join them if this situation is not resolved. The Grim Halberdier has taken his fifth victim. Angus Branchett claims to have identified the man behind the ghastly moniker, and his men are on the hunt this night. I silently curse this town’s love affair with sending its young men to join the Army, especially now that preparations for entry into Europe’s war keep them all so far from home. All we have left to protect this town from invaders are the elderly and infirm. If you were still here, my love, I know this killer would be in the ground by now.
I fear the madness may have already taken me. I cry out for the boy that used to visit from the forest, that noble beast, the timid Leviathan. He comes no more and I am afraid the Grim Halberdier has finally found him. I have tried to fulfill the boy’s request to go to him if I ever call and he does not appear. But the police have prohibited any and all access to the woods for fear of the killer. For disregarding their orders, I now sit in their cell.
I have tried to convince them that I must enter the woods. Perhaps foolishly, I told them about the dreams. I told them the words the boy spoke to me about my connection to the bear. I must go to the boy so that the bear can appear. Otherwise, the man in the woods will not be stopped. I have given the police my best drawing of the boy so they might locate and rescue him, but they laugh at me. Our dullard of a mayor puts ridiculous ideas in people’s heads, spinning my claims into tall tales and wicked spells. I know it’s that awful moneylender Crayford whispering in his ear. The workmen call me ‘bruja,’ the rest of the townfolk just say it plainly to my face—witch.
So I pray that Branchett and his band of elderly deputies, who run about as if they were children with cap-guns playing cowboy, can live up to their big talk. It is all I can do. All any of us can do to affect the outcome is pray.
I hope that you are well. I find myself hoping that I join you soon. Perhaps, if things keep heading out of control, I will not have to wait long. I take comfort in knowing that none of this concerns you, as you are safe in the hands of God.
All My Love,
This letter confirms the boy's words to Kelly, making her believe in everything he has said.
When Ethan is staying over at Kelly's house, he says that Muriel had similarly taken him in and given him food and clothes. They were somehow separated after the death of the Grim Halberdier, probably due to the hysteria of the town.
The two theorize that Muriel was connected to Momma Kodi, as Kelly is now. At the climax, however, Kelly realizes that this theory was mistaken. Muriel, like Kelly, simply energized the bear through acts of motherly protection. This reveals the bear is a manifestation of Ethan's desire for a mother.
- The name "Muriel" carries some significance to the author. The character was named Agatha Greaves in the first draft of the novel. During development of The Nexus Nebula Saga in 2011, the most openly Christian story in the series was called God's Gate. A guardian angel named Muriel investigated a series of portals into Hell. When that story was scrapped, Momma Grizzly was later created in its place. The author later heard the song "Muriel" by Robin Borneman, which reminded the author of God's Gate and inspired the change of this character's name from Agatha to Muriel.
- Robin Borneman - Muriel