In quiet Berkley Cove, North Carolina, a young man is found dead. The illusive ‘Marsh Girl’, Kya Clark, is the suspected murderer.
But what starts as a bayou-style murder mystery quickly unfolds, revealing itself to be a deeper story of family, survival and coming-of-age against tremendous odds.
Kya is an abandoned child, nurtured by the brutal lessons and magnificent beauty of the natural world all the while remaining an authentic, endearing individual. Her very real desire to be loved, both by the family she has lost, and her eventual male suitors’ heart is the emotional driving force of the novel.
Still the looming specter of Chase Andrew’s death hangs, driving the plot through Kya’s complicated life. Owens has taken great care in maintaining illusion and mystery, resulting in pages that could not turn fast enough, and an utterly unexpected ending.
This is her first work of fiction after many years of being an accomplished nature writer and it is evident she has done her research on character, plot, and place. Her style is evocative of Barbara Kingsolver all the while remaining firmly steeped in her natural roots. Tender descriptions of themarshlands are outstanding, so rich you can almost smell the salted ocean or hear the gulls cry. Like Kya, Owens loves the marshes, they are a part of her.
From the outset, I was enraptured. Owen’s gripping pace and talent for deep emotional characters against the backdrop of the lush swamplands left me engrossed and inspired.
Reviewed by Kelsey Ward. 23 Mar, 2019