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Near Mars Hill, there is a cove whose darkness and isolation seem to curse its inhabitants. For Laurel Shelton, a young girl living in the cove with a brother who

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Near Mars Hill, there is a cove whose darkness and isolation seem to curse its inhabitants. For Laurel Shelton, a young girl living in the cove with a brother who

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Near Mars Hill, there is a cove whose darkness and isolation seem to curse its inhabitants. For Laurel Shelton, a young girl living in the cove with a brother who

The Cove by Ron Rash

Near Mars Hill, there is a cove whose darkness and isolation seem to curse its inhabitants. For Laurel Shelton, a young girl living in the cove with a brother who just returned from World War I, this curse marks her as a witch. When Laurel nurses a traveling musician back to health, she dreams of following him to New York, and for a short time, it seems that Laurel will attain happiness and break the curse. But the truth of her lover’s identity and the fervor of WWI whip a young Army recruiter into a frenzy, and the ensuing violence traps Laurel and her lover in a web of misguided patriotism that even love cannot endure.

As readers have come to expect, Rash marries a tightly plotted story with lyrical stylings that evoke the character of an old-time Appalachia that has mostly disappeared. The Cove is a quieter book than his previous novel Serena, less sweeping in its scope. This is not a failing, however, as The Cove chooses focus over epic portrayal, and the effect is a moving story of hope and love crossed with the superstitions of the time. The Cove may make the reader question whether we have left such old-world beliefs behind and whether love really does conquer all.

In the end, Rash, like any good writer, offers no answers. What he gives is a good story, wrought with nuanced skill and grace, as he lets the reader make of it what she pleases.

Ecco. 2012, 255 pages, hardback, $26.99.

This story was published on Aug 31, 2012

Our State Staff

Our State Staff

Since 1933, Our State has shared stories about North Carolina with readers both in state and around the world. We celebrate the people and places that make this state great. From the mountains to the coast, we feature North Carolina travel, history, food, and beautiful scenic photography.