Rummanah Aasi
 The Cove by Ron Rash is a haunting, powerfully moving novel, set in the rural backwoods of North Carolina near the end of World War I. The gripping plot, Gothic atmosphere, and striking descriptions, in particular of the dismal cove, The Cove would is my recommendation for a great romantic suspense read.

Description:  Living deep within a cove in the Appalachians of North Carolina during World War I, Laurel Shelton finally finds the happiness she deserves in Walter, a mysterious stranger who is mute, but their love cannot protect them from a devastating secret.

Review: In the Appalachians of North Carolina near the end of WWI, lonely Laurel Shelton lives with her brother, newly returned from the war, in a forbidding place known as the cove. Shunned all of her life by the townsfolk of Mars Hill because of a large purple birthmark which they believe is mark of her witchcraft, Laurel despairs of ever making a life for herself. Believed to be doomed to a life of solitude and loneliness in an isolated and presumably haunted cove, Laurel stumbles upon a stranger who plays the flute beautifully. Stunned that a person would actually volunteer to be near the cove, Laurel is drawn to the possibility of human contact. She momentarily flees and chides herself that it was only an illusion until she sees same flute player the next day, but only this time he isn't playing his beautiful music but is shaking from the cold and many bee bites. Laurel makes a rapid decision to heal the stranger and nurses him back to health.
  The stranger is later revealed by a note in his clothes claiming his name is Walter and that he is mute. Walter, however, is hiding his true identity because he is well aware that it would place all the lives he has come across in grave danger. As Walter recovers from his injuries, he is able to help Laurel and her brother on the farm as his thanks for their assistance in sheltering and providing for him. Slowly, Walter and Laurel form a bond of trust, friendship, and soon much more. There are not overt gestures of love exchanged between Laurel and Walter, but the romance is clearly evident in the quiet times they spend together. For Walter, Laurel presents an opportunity to forget his past and get a fresh start. For Laurel, Walter is her hope for normalcy and a chance of having to live her life in reality rather than in her dreams. Unfortunately, Laurel and Walter have to face uncertainty and test their relationship as Walter's real identity is revealed. While readers could easily have figured out who the real Walter is, I was more engrossed in how Rash effortlessly summons the rugged Appalachian landscape as well as the small-mindedness and xenophobia of a country in the grip of patriotic fervor, which I don't think is a coincidence considering our politics today. Each character that Rash has created is three dimensional and fully realized. Though the book's ending broke my heart and made me wonder if that cove is truly haunted, I thought the story was powerful and was satisfied that the social commentary stayed at the subtle yet at the same time profound level. I look forward to reading more books by Rash.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language including racial slurs, a brief scene of implied rape, and sexual situations that are not explicitly described. Recommended for older teens and adults only.

If you like this book try: This Rock by Robert Morgan or Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell
6 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    I love the sound of the romance in this one Rummanah, sometimes the quieter ones where a word or small gesture is actually so much more than they appear to be at first glance are the ones that stick with me the longest. I'm worried about this ending that broke your heart though, I need an HEA!


  2. I got the impression that this is a very atmospheric read and I must admit I like the sound of it. I like these quiet romances that are both convincing and heart-melting without being overly flashy.
    I'm adding this to my tbr right away and hopefully I'll get my hands on a copy soon.
    Fantastic review!


  3. THis sounds really good. I love historical books and this is a fascinating time period. I am now very curious about The Cove as well. Thanks for the recommendation.


  4. Candace Says:

    Wow, this sounds amazing! The setting and the romance sounds like something I would like for sure. I'm going to watch for this one!


  5. This sounds like a book that would keep my interest. Does it have an HEA? I have to have those especially with a book that sounds emotional like this.


  6. I really like the sound of this, Rummanah. I usually prefer subtle romances and am curious to find out who Walter actually is. The setting sounds really well done too.


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