Pub Date: April 2012, Bell Bridge Books
Source: Purchased at FoxTale Book Shoppe
Can the river heal her?
Roslyn Byrne is twenty-four years old, broken in body, heart and soul. Her career as a professional ballet dancer ended with a car wreck and a miscarriage, leaving her lost and grieving. She needs a new path, but she doesn't have the least idea how or where to start. With some shoving from her very Southern mama, she immures herself for the summer on Manny's Island, Georgia, one of the Sea Isles, to recover.
There Roslyn finds a ten-year-old girl, Damascus, who brings alligators, pumpkins and hoodoo into her sorry life.
Roslyn rents a house from Damascus's family, the Trezevants, a strange bunch. One of the cousins, Nonnie, who works in the family's market, sees things Roslyn is pretty sure she shouldn't, and knows things regular people don't. Between the Trezevant secrets and Damascus's blatant snooping and meddling, Roslyn finds herself caught in a mysterious stew of the past and present, the music of the river, the dead and the dying who haunt the riverbank, and a passion for living her new life.
No, your eyes do not deceive you -- there is actually a review posted on my blog! Don't take this to be any kind of promise that I am back with regularity and frequency, but I am trying to see if I can bring this little review site back to some semblance of life. And what better time to start than after just attending the best book signing to which I have ever had the fortune to go! Our local indie bookstore one town to the south of us, the FoxTale Book Shoppe, welcomed the Susanna Kearsley & Friends tour this past Monday evening. If you've followed my blog or know me elsewhere online, then you probably realize I love, love, LOVE Susanna Kearsley. Well, I hadn't actually heard of any of the other authors at the event, so naturally, I purchased books by each. I just finished reading The River Witch by Kimberly Brock this evening and felt compelled to share my thoughts with you. Nothing long and prosy and honestly, not much else to dress it up, but here we go...
I'll admit when the story began, I wasn't quite sure what to make of it or how I would feel by the time the book ended. And then I was swept away into a richly woven tale that was at times sad, humorous, heartwarming, and bittersweet. Along with all of that is a quirkiness to the characters and remote Southern setting that make it very unique and truly impressive for a debut book. As I fully confess to being a girl who prefers a happily-ever-after, I was surprised to feel so satisfied when I closed the book following those breathtakingly poignant final pages. The River Witch is a bit outside the norm for me, and the closest I can come to fitting it in its place among my history of reading is right alongside Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Now, it has been many, many years since I read that book, but that comparison is what first popped into my head as I started settling into Brock's story set in south Georgia along the Atlantic coast. Perhaps it is their shared locale of the Deep South that ties them together for me, but I also think it might be the quirky, memorable characters. And then again, perhaps you can't have one without the other. Add to the mix a writing style that calls to mind vivid images full of color, sound, smells, and even tastes while you read, and you have a remarkable debut. At times I felt the story wander and slow down, but Brock was usually quick to recapture my interest with an unexpected twist or witty insight from one of her characters. I definitely hope we see more from Brock in the future!
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