As powerhouse storms brought northern Maine landscapes to much of the country over the winter, they also bring added power to “Show Me Good Land,” a strong new novel about Aroostook County.

For the flint beneath the sandy soil of Aroostook, this is a good book to read. For the flint beneath the surface of Aroostook’s people, it turns out to be even better.

Author Shonna Milliken Humphrey of Gorham is the former executive director of the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Much that she knows about Maine is polished into fine writing in this book.

Yet it is an honest portrait that she has used her art to convey, and not a glamorous summer land with sailboats, summer homes, money flowing like well water and characters “from away.”

Humphrey sets her book in fictional Fort Angus, a once large and flourishing shire town in “the County.” Her heroine is Rhetta Ballou. Born and bred in Aroostook, she is returning to Fort Angus in the wake of a murder as the community, its skeleton laid bare, tries to sort through the mystery.

Humphrey is a strong Maine voice, and the world she describes, whether places or people, vibrates with authenticity. Here’s how she lays out Fort Angus:

“In the blocks immediately circling the downtown proper are expansive Victorian homes — large, impressive structures with intricate cookie-cutter woodwork and multiple cupolas. Some are well-maintained, parts of former estates that sprawl a half block or more, while others have been chopped into multi-unit, low-income apartment buildings.

“In their heyday these houses symbolized a level of wealth and prosperity typical of the pioneering folks up from Massachusetts, hoping to mold a new Boston. But now the industry that supported these homes is gone.”

Yet descendants of many of the families who strived to survive in Fort Angus remain there still.

It is that tension between those who choose to stay in their hometown and those who move away that powers much of Humphrey’s book.

Rhetta Ballou is among the young people called to a wider world. When school closes for the annual stint in the potato fields, she is adrift in discontent. “She couldn’t formulate, much less say out loud,” Humphrey tells us, “that she was beginning to see this daily routine as the blueprint of family life, of her life — that there would be nothing more than these fields, these swollen knuckles, this long day

“Because she had no words for these emotions, she couldn’t yet process the converse: that this life was a choice for many in the northern Maine community, that it had merit and taught among other things, the value of work and people and money.”

Against this background Rhetta begins to see both herself and Fort Angus through fresh eyes. People she has known all her life take on new colorations and deeper meaning in her life.

A murder brought her home. But a new understanding of herself and those around her will determine where she goes from there.

Humphrey gives us an authentic portrait of her journey in a story that vibrates with the quiet triumphs of northern Maine.

Nancy Grape writes book reviews for the Maine Sunday Telegram.