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Review: The Cove

July 6, 2012

Laurel has spent a lonely life in a cove in the mountains of North Carolina with her brother Hank.  Because of a birthmark Laurel was born with, the residents of neighboring Mars Hill have deemed her a witch – after all, both of her parents died when she was young.  When Walter, a young, mute stranger, shows up at her home one day, Laurel feels like her life has finally begun.

Things aren’t as they appear, though, and it turns out Walter is not who Laurel thought.  The secret he’s carrying may just be dangerous  enough to destroy them.

The Cove once again proves that Ron Rash is a master at the art of Appalachian storytelling.  This book is gritty and dark but beautifully written.  Rash’s words carry the reader to the depths of Appalachia on the verge of World War II.

Laurel is such a sympathetic character.  She has hopes and dreams like everyone else and yearns for a richer life.  The prejudices and ignorance of the area and time keep her from fulfilling her potential and it is heartbreaking to read.  When Walter shows up, it seems things may be looking up for Laurel.  She starts to suspect that Walter is hiding something and does a little investigating.  She is shocked by what she discovers and has to decide what to do with the information.

As usual with Rash’s work, The Cove is dark and foreboding – life for its characters is difficult.  The book is filled with atmosphere and tension so it’s difficult to put down.  It captures the hardscrabble life of the people of Appalachia.

I listened to the audio version of this book.  It’s narrated by Merrit Hicks and I’m not sure she was the best choice for the book.  I found her narration to be a little flat.  Maybe that was the point, but there were times that I had to really focus to keep track of the story.   I did enjoy it but think I might have felt the emotions of the story more if I had read the words myself.  The audio version lasts about six and a half hours.

Review copy provided by Harper Collins. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
35 Comments leave one →
  1. July 6, 2012 4:04 am

    With its setting, this book sounds exactly like my kind of book! Great review you have made me want to hunt down a copy and I will!

  2. July 6, 2012 6:55 am

    Thanks for your honest thoughts on the audio version. think I will stick to the print version.

  3. July 6, 2012 7:05 am

    I can’t do audio anyway, so I will look out for a print version.

  4. July 6, 2012 8:17 am

    So should I read this one instead of listening to it?

  5. July 6, 2012 8:44 am

    I prefer print as well. Thanks for a great review.

  6. kaye permalink
    July 6, 2012 9:08 am

    A flat audio reading would put me to sleep. I still prefer the printed word.

  7. July 6, 2012 9:09 am

    Thanks for the audio comment. I’m listening to a rather flat narrator right now. Not enjoying it much. I’ll read the print edition of The Cove. It’s on my list!

  8. July 6, 2012 9:11 am

    I’ve heard quite a few good things about this author so I will look forward to checking this out.

  9. July 6, 2012 10:52 am

    When I read this, I will definitely get the print version. It looks like a book I can wrap my brain around.

  10. July 6, 2012 11:48 am

    We reviewed the same book today. Although I liked the story, I agree about the audio. I thought it lacked drama.

  11. talesofwhimsy permalink
    July 6, 2012 12:06 pm

    Thanks for your honesty. I hadn’t heard of this one.

  12. July 6, 2012 12:28 pm

    I’ve seen this one around but I hadn’t paid much attention to the premise. Sounds fantastic!

  13. July 6, 2012 1:10 pm

    I’m amazed at how audio can change a book. Still, these seemed like it really worked for you. Rash is a new author to me, but I would like to check out his work.

  14. boardinginmyforties permalink
    July 6, 2012 1:20 pm

    The setting of this one is irresistible to me.

  15. July 6, 2012 1:35 pm

    I love Ron Rash’s work. Thanks for the tip on the audio.

  16. zibilee permalink
    July 6, 2012 2:03 pm

    It’s so funny that you reviewed this today, as I just finished The Snow Child on audio, and this one is up next! I am really only using this one as a stepping stone until the second book in the Discovery of Witches comes out, but now I know it is going to be excellent! Too bad about the narrator though. I hope she is a bigger hit with me! Great review today, Kathy!

  17. July 6, 2012 3:02 pm

    I don’t think I’ve ever read a truly happy, Pollyanna-ish story set in the Appalachians. I think the closest thing would be “Christy.” I tend to avoid books with that setting because there is usually so much poverty and sorrow involved. On the other hand, that is a good set up for a lot of drama.

  18. Patty permalink
    July 6, 2012 3:10 pm

    Oooh this just sounds deep dark and lovely!

  19. July 6, 2012 4:38 pm

    Sounds like a really rich story and I usually enjoy historical fiction audiobooks. Too bad that the narrator wasn’t the best match though. You do make me want to read the book version!

  20. July 6, 2012 4:58 pm

    Second review I have read on this one today… it sounds good but yes, apparently in book format!

  21. July 6, 2012 5:21 pm

    I love an atmospheric book! This one sounds fab!

  22. sandynawrot permalink
    July 6, 2012 5:24 pm

    I really REALLY want to read this one, and of course my first instinct would be to grab the audio so I appreciate the warning. I’ll try to pick it up at the library. I’ve just heard so much about this guy.

  23. July 6, 2012 7:32 pm

    I must know Watker’s secret!

  24. July 6, 2012 7:35 pm

    This is a book on my list for the WWI reading challenge.

  25. Beth F permalink
    July 6, 2012 10:14 pm

    I loved this — I’m sorry the audio wasn’t better.

  26. July 6, 2012 10:47 pm

    I’m going to read this one someday.

  27. July 6, 2012 11:09 pm

    Have you read Rash’s novel Serena? And if so how does it compare with this one? I’m eager to read Serena first …

  28. July 7, 2012 12:26 am

    I think this is one book I would prefer to read rather than listen to for the reasons you mentioned.

  29. July 7, 2012 1:18 am

    I haven’t read any of his books, but will check them out. Sorry you didn’t love the narration!

  30. July 7, 2012 5:24 am

    Maybe not the audio for me then, i do not want to force myself to keep track

  31. July 7, 2012 9:25 pm

    I love atmospheric stories. Thanks for the audio warning.

  32. July 8, 2012 10:46 am

    I have not read anything by Ron Rash, but I do enjoy a well written dark story. Thank you for your review. I may really enjoy this book. I do not listen to audio, but will pick up a copy of the book at some point. I like the song in the trailer. It has that Appalachian feel, that’s for sure.

  33. litandlife permalink
    July 9, 2012 10:46 pm

    I loved the book reading it. You’d think for audio, you’d pick someone who could really pick up the tone of the book.

  34. Staci@LifeintheThumb permalink
    July 12, 2012 10:24 pm

    going to read this one but in book form, thanks for the heads up about the audio!!!

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