The Cove by Ron Rash

Laurel Shelton’s birthmark has sentenced her to a life of loneliness–most people shun her for fear that she’s a witch.  Her parents are dead and her brother has plans to marry soon; she feels completely alone.  Living in the dark shadows of her family’s gloomy cove, Laurel sometimes questions her own existence.

Things begin to change when she finds a stranger in the woods, severely stung by yellow jackets.  She nurses him back to health; his interest in her makes her feel alive and, for the first time in her life, hopeful.  His name is Walter–although mute, he is a gifted musician.  Walter has a dangerous secret though and secrets are hard to keep in small towns.  With severely wounded soldiers returning from the battlefields in Europe, and others who will never return, the townsfolk of Mars Hill are on edge and looking for someone to punish.

The Cove begins with a mystery–someone’s skull is at the bottom of a well, but whose?  Rash keeps you guessing until the very end and I love that.  Atmospheric and chilling, the suspense builds slowly but the ending will leave you breathless.

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