Review – Audiobook: The Cove by Ron Rash
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Harper Audio
Publish Date: May 1, 2012
Format: Audio, 6 hours | 28 minutes
Audio Listening Level: Easy – Intermediate
Rating: 4 of 5
Laurel Shelton and and her brother Hank live deep within the Appalachians in the cove, a place the townspeople believe to be haunted. Laurel was born with a large birthmark on her shoulder and to many folks that means she is a witch. It’s near the end of World War I in rural North Carolina where superstition, prejudice and fear rule.
Lonely and shunned, Laurel spends much of her time in the woods in solitude. One day she hears music and sees a stranger in the cove playing the flute. He cannot speak and gives her a note saying that his name is Walter and he is a musician on his way to New York. He is suffering from bee stings and Laura brings him back to the house and offers to let him stay until he recovers. Laurel and Walter soon find they have feelings for one another and she doesn’t want him to leave. But Walter has a secret, a dangerous secret that can endanger both their lives.
The Cove is a beautifully written, haunting story told from Laurel’s point of view. There are elegant passages with many descriptions of nature and the land, creating a stark contrast to the the harshness of the life the people of Mars Hill were living. Through the vivid prose I could visualize the flowers and birds making me feel as if I was there. When Laurel told the story of the Carolina Parakeets it stirred emotion in me and I wanted help the now extinct birds.
While Laurel was a sympathetic and likeable character, the author doesn’t give us much background on most of the other people. Many of the townspeople are superstitious and some are evil, but I’m not sure I understand why other than “that’s how it was back then”. The story moves a little slowly in the first half, but accelerates later to an unexpected, climactic ending.
At only six and a half hours of listening time, this was a short book, almost a novella. Merrit Hicks’ narration was pleasant enough to listen to but it was lacking the drama that I am accustomed to in an audiobook.
A beautifully descriptive, memorable story with a haunting ending. Recommended.
Source: Review copy.
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