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July 6, 2012 / Leslie

Review – Audiobook: The Cove by Ron Rash

The Cove by Ron RashThe Cove
by Ron Rash
Narrated by Merritt Hicks

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.
© 2012 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.



Leave a Comment
  1. Mary / Jul 6 2012 10:13 am

    I think this will be a print read for me. It’s on my list!


    • Leslie / Jul 6 2012 10:16 am

      The audio was ok, but if you have the print version it’s probably better to go with that.


  2. BermudaOnion / Jul 6 2012 10:17 am

    I reviewed this audio book today too! I agree with you on the narration. I was surprised it was so flat, since the author had input on the choice of narrator.


    • Leslie / Jul 6 2012 10:45 am

      Yes, flat! It was more like being read to than listening to a dramatization. I just finished The Chaperone in audio and the narration was exciting and dramatic in comparison.


  3. sagustocox / Jul 6 2012 11:05 am

    I’ve posted your link on the War Through the Generations Web page for WWI reviews. I have this on my radar


    • Leslie / Jul 6 2012 11:29 am

      I hadn’t thought of this as a war book, but WWI does play a key role in the story. I’ll add a WWI tag.


  4. Sheila (Book Journey) / Jul 6 2012 12:53 pm

    Oh I want to listen to this but now concerned about the narration… maybe I should read the book instead?


    • Leslie / Jul 6 2012 2:10 pm

      The audio is ok, but I would have liked a little more expression. As Kathy commented, it was flat. If you don’t mind just being read to, it should be ok for you.


  5. DevourerofBooks (@DevourerofBooks) / Jul 6 2012 5:06 pm

    Well, I’m not disappointed I didn’t take the audiobook for review, I guess.


  6. Suko / Jul 6 2012 6:29 pm

    Very lovely review, Leslie. I’m glad you enjoyed this.


  7. Diane@BibliophilebytheSea / Jul 6 2012 9:36 pm

    Hmmmm? audiobook or print version ?? I have both. I’m glad you enjoyed the story.


  8. stacybuckeye / Jul 10 2012 9:31 pm

    I listen to a lot of audio books and love haunting stories, but a flat narration is no good. Maybe paper would be a better way for this one?



  1. 2012 Reading Challenge Wrap-Up « Under My Apple Tree

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