Welcome to Imprint Friday and today's featured imprint: Ecco books. Stop by each week to be introduced to a must-read title from one of my favorite imprints. I know you'll be adding many of these books to your wish list.
I'll admit it right up front: I know Ron Rash is an award-winning author but I hadn't read any of his work until I picked up The Cove, published just last week. The next thing I have to say is this: Now I want to read every word Rash has written; all the praise and honors are sincerely deserved. Set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina during World War I, The Cove is a haunting story of prejudice and fear, family and love.
Here's the publisher's summary:
Deep in the rugged Appalachians of North Carolina lies the cove, a dark, forbidding place where spirits and fetches wander, and even the light fears to travel. Or so the townsfolk of Mars Hill believe—just as they know that Laurel Shelton, the lonely young woman who lives within its shadows, is a witch. Alone except for her brother, Hank, newly returned from the trenches of France, she aches for her life to begin.I was so taken with The Cove, I barely know where to begin to tell you about it. A truly great novel is more than believable characters, a vivid setting, and a well-crafted plot. When an author can create a mood, a world that draws you in so completely you feel almost as if you were in a dream state, that's a book you'll remember for years to come. Although I've loved many books, only a few have created that feeling for me, and three took place in the southern Appalachians: Gap Creek, Cold Mountain, and now The Cove.
Then it happens—a stranger appears, carrying nothing but a beautiful silver flute and a note explaining that his name is Walter, he is mute, and is bound for New York. Laurel finds him in the woods, nearly stung to death by yellow jackets, and nurses him back to health. As the days pass, Walter slips easily into life in the cove and into Laurel's heart, bringing her the only real happiness she has ever known.
But Walter harbors a secret that could destroy everything—and danger is closer than they know. Though the war in Europe is near its end, patriotic fervor flourishes thanks to the likes of Chauncey Feith, an ambitious young army recruiter who stokes fear and outrage throughout the county. In a time of uncertainty, when fear and ignorance reign, Laurel and Walter will discover that love may not be enough to protect them.
This lyrical, heart-rending tale, as mesmerizing as its award-winning predecessor Serena, shows once again this masterful novelist at the height of his powers.
There are many kinds of prejudice besides those based on race, religion, and gender. The citizens of Mars Hill have turned against the Sheltons because Laurel was born with a port wine birthmark. The townspeople blame every bit of bad luck on the girl, who clearly has the ability to cast powerful curses. At the same time Chauncey fuels the flames of hatred for all things Hun, from the professor of German at the local college to the librarian who allows German-language books to remain in the stacks. He even questions the circumstances that earned Hank his Purple Heart, after all the combat veteran is a Shelton. Aren't other local boys more deserving of honors?
Against this backdrop, Laurel and Hank yearn for basic human needs: love, family, friendship, and happiness. With the help of sympathetic neighbors and the mute Walter, the siblings begin to see some hope for a better future. But it's with increasing dread that we watch as Laurel and Hank begin to believe and dream. Rash has lured us in, and we can't let go of the bait.
And now for some other opinions (click on the links for the full reviews):
- Melissa Maerz, writing for Entertainment Weekly: "[I]t's clear that The Cove isn't just an elegant work of literary fiction, written in a voice that's hauntingly simple and Southern; it's also a riveting mystery."
- Nancy at A Musing Reviews: "It is not a fast paced novel yet I could not put the book down. The writing is beautiful, the story intriguing and metaphorical."
- Kirkus Reviews: "What might have been trite and formulaic is anything but in Rash’s fifth novel, a dark tale of Appalachian superstition and jingoism so good it gives you chills."
Beth Fish Reads is proud to showcase Ecco books as a featured imprint on this blog. For more information about Ecco, please read the introductory note from Vice President / Associate Publisher Rachel Bressler, posted here on July 15, 2011. Find your next great read by clicking on Ecco in the scroll-down topics/labels list in my sidebar and by visiting Ecco books on Facebook and following them on Twitter.