My rating: 4.5/5 stars
For years, rumours of the ‘Marsh Girl’ have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. This is the story of Kya who lives in the swamp and has survived there for years alone without any family, finding friends in the nature that surrounds her. When two men from town, Chase and Tate, become intrigued by her, Kya opens herself up to a new life. But in 1969 Chase is found dead and the locals immediately suspect Kya the strange ‘Marsh Girl’.
The novel starts in an unusual place. I have not given anything away by revealing Chase’s death as this is revealed on the first page in the prologue and so you spend the whole time trying to guess what happened to him. The locals all blame Kya as she is a very misunderstood character within the book and is written-off by the locals as being almost feral. Kya is a complex character and this doesn’t change the whole way through the novel.
Loneliness and abandonment are constant themes and really help the reader to connect with Kya. As someone who has never experienced most of what Kya experiences throughout the novel, the element of human emotion makes her more understandable and keeps her human to the reader. Her loneliness makes it a heartfelt story and invokes pity within the reader, I really was on her side.
Nothing can compare to the language choice within this book. The descriptions are vivid and beautiful; bringing the world of the marshes to life. The inclusion of wildlife gave the novel a new depth and really made the marshes a brilliant backdrop for such a story. The novel in parts was quite slow-paced but the descriptions really aided in these areas, supporting the parts of the plot that otherwise could have been boring.
The reason I have not given this novel 5 stars was largely due to the unrealistic nature of Kya’s story. Parts of it just seemed far fetched, and I know that this is a fiction novel, but a child being left alone from 6 years old and surviving with just a boat and an old house did seem a little far fetched.
The ending of the book, for me, was well crafted and didn’t leave me with any unanswered questions. Although the ending wasn’t entirely predictable I was also not shocked and all of the loose ends were tied up which was satisfying.
If you are looking for a fasted paced who-done-it style murder mystery, this book isn’t for you. Although, the murder is always in the back of your mind the story is focused on more than just who killed Chase. To me, it felt like more of a coming-of age narrative to which the murder was part of. Overall I would definitely recommend this book as it truly is a beautiful story filled with some of the best descriptions I have ever read.
Do you have a suggestion for the next book to add to my bookshelf? Let me know in comments.