20 April 2012

Imprint Friday: The Cove by Ron Rash

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.

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.
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.

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."
The Cove was an Indie Next pick for April 2012. For more on Ron Rash, see his author page on the publisher's website.

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.

The Cove at Powell's
The Cove at Book Depository
These links lead to affiliate programs.

Published by HarperCollins / Ecco, April 2012
ISBN-13: 9780061804199


bermudaonion 4/20/12, 8:33 AM  

Ron Rash is HUGE in this part of the country. I'm really looking forward to reading this book. Did you know they're making Serena into a movie?

Daryl 4/20/12, 8:44 AM  

I am feeling a wee bit of deja vu ... I am not sure where I read a review of this but I know I did ....

Julie P. 4/20/12, 8:55 AM  

So exciting!!! I almost picked this one up yesterday but went with a light YA book. I can't wait to read it after your glowing recommendation.

Zibilee 4/20/12, 10:53 AM  

I have read one or two other wonderful reviews of this book in the last couple of weeks, and have to admit that it intrigues the heck out of me. I got the chance to hear Rash read a bit of his poetry once, and he has such a commanding and vivid presence. It looks like I am going to have to go out and search for this one when I can. It sounds excellent!

Nise' 4/20/12, 10:59 AM  

I like to find new to me authors that after reading their book, I search for all their other books. I have this one on hold at the library.

Sandy Nawrot 4/20/12, 11:05 AM  

I've not read any of his work, but I had a couple of his book at our ALL auction once and they generated excitement. THEN, I see this book on the Must List in EW, which is really huge. I have to read this. Have to. Ecco rocks, don't they? I'm thinking of putting them up on a pedestal with Amy Einhorn.

Barbara 4/20/12, 11:14 AM  

This sounds like a great read. It's definitely going on my list which unfortunately is so long I surely won't live long enough to read all the books on it. Have to stick with the ones that are starred - like this one.

picky 4/20/12, 3:31 PM  

I reviewed this book this week as well, and I really was impressed by the quality of the writing and the environment he created. So atmospheric.

Now I really want to read Serena.

Jenn's Bookshelves 4/20/12, 7:36 PM  

Ohhh...this looks fantastic!

Darlene 4/21/12, 2:03 PM  

I loved this books well and can't wait to read more by Ron. Serena is next up on my list!

Robin M 4/21/12, 3:06 PM  

I stumbled across this book the other day and it really intrigued me. Now that I've read your review, moving it up to the top of the purchase list.

Tina 4/22/12, 11:15 AM  

This one is next up on my reading pile. I'd hoped to get to it sooner, but I'm really looking forward to making it part of my reading for my World War I reading challenge at War Through The Generations

Unknown 4/23/12, 12:12 PM  

It sounds like a fascinating read..thanks for bringing it to my attention.

Just Mom 4/25/12, 9:40 PM  

I just read my first Ron Rash, Serena, and have the same urge to go gather them all now! This sre sounds good!

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