In the prologue of this rather mesmerising novel author Delia Owens explains the difference between a marsh and a swamp. A swamp is all about decay. It dines on death and certainly doesn't define it as a tragedy. A marsh, on the other hand, is teeming with life.
There's plenty of both – marsh and swamp, life and death – in this story which is part coming-of-age, part celebration of nature and part murder-mystery.
Kya Clark is six years old when her adored mother walks out of the family's shack in the North Carolina marshlands. One by one, her siblings leave too, until it's just Kya and her abusive father.
Then, one day, he also doesn't return. Just 10 years old, Kya makes ends meet by digging for mussels and relying on the kindness of the few townspeople who don't shun her for being an outcast.
Despite her loneliness, Kya thrives in the marsh, spending her days studying the creatures that dwell in it, becoming an expert on the cornucopia of life around her. When Kya is 23 the body of Chase Andrews, the town's hot-shot sports jock, is found partially submerged in the swamp and it doesn't take long for the finger to point in her direction.
Chapters alternate between Kya's early years and the police investigation into Chase's death until the two narratives finally merge.
Much of what makes this novel so hypnotising is the remarkable setting. The marsh permeates through the pages, awash with brine, abuzz with insects, swishing with fish and birdlife. Delia's background as a wildlife scientist is clearly evident but she also writes exquisitely. A fulfilling read.
Simply fill out the form below to be in to win.
- BodyRadio host Sarah Gandy has been diagnosed with breast cancer
Now To LoveToday 12:13pm
- RoyalsDuchess Meghan has jetted off to New York for her baby shower
Now To LoveToday 11:36am
- FertilityTips for couples who are trying to conceive and not pregnant yet
Now To LoveToday 11:19am
- Pregnancy & BirthGemma McCaw's praise for the midwife who delivered baby Charlotte
Woman's DayToday 7:00am
- MoneyOnline shopping fails - Kiwi consumers' hilarious tales
Now To LoveYesterday 4:00pm
- Celebrity NewsHarper Beckham and Anna Wintour's priceless twinning moment
Now To LoveYesterday 2:28pm
- RoyalsPrince William and Prince Harry are reportedly splitting their royal household after 10 years together
Now To LoveYesterday 12:15pm
- RoyalsHappy Birthday Prince Andrew: 7 things you may not know about the Duke of York
Now To LoveYesterday 9:30am
- Destinations CitiesThe all-women Bali retreat that saved my soul after my fiancé left me
The Australian Women's WeeklyFeb 17, 2019
- BodyWhy Olivia Newton-John isn't letting battling cancer for the third time get her down
Good Health ChoicesFeb 17, 2019
- Married at First SightMAFS baby on board? Reports suggest this bride is already pregnant
Now To LoveFeb 17, 2019