By Cindy Bilbao
By Delia OwensDelia Owens has written a unique murder mystery with a haunting quality, juxtaposed with descriptive writing about lush coastal marshlands that will carry the reader directly there as they read.
Amidst the coastal marshes of North Carolina, a family lives intimately with nature in a small shack. The people who live in the marsh are scorned by the villagers, who live inland, which forces them to live a reclusive, quiet life in communion with the creatures and the tides.
Kya is the youngest girl in the family and was born into the marsh life. She is so thoroughly immersed in this unique lifestyle that the seagulls are her only friends. She collects rare feathers and shells while documenting the life cycles of the animals and drawing pictures of the plant life. Unschooled in the conventional sense, her education is growing up in nature. Her story is that of survival and profound loneliness as her entire family eventually abandons the marsh life and her.
Having learned that she cannot trust or depend on anyone but herself, she’s confused as a young teenager by the onset of desires and her of interest in a local boy, Tate, who has fished in the marshes since childhood. She also meets the popular football hero, Chase Andrews, who parties on her beach with his friends. She lets each of these people into her solitary world with disastrous results. When Chase is discovered murdered in the marsh, the townspeople and the police suspect Kya. All her life she has been considered to be a wild, mysterious creature, and now she finds herself a murder suspect. Even the reader will be wondering if she really did it. Any one of the characters in this story could be a suspect, and it’s a page-turner until the absolute end when we finally learn the truth.
As the author expertly guides us through Kya’s world, we witness an intimate and enlightening development of her character, which provides the real depth of the story. The author, Delia Owens, holds a doctorate in animal behavior and has won awards for her nature writing. This is the pedigree she brings to the novel, making it difficult to put down.
With elegant prose and a lyrical portraiture of the coastal environment, this story is like a quilt sewn together by a master quilter. It contains many elements that hold the reader’s attention: It has mystery with a bit of legal drama that’s woven with heart-wrenching depth of emotion. To this, she’s added a splash of love story that includes a coming-of-age element. The nature of the marshlands is the thread that holds it all together.
This is a story that I won’t easily forget, because it’s inspired me to pay closer attention to the less obvious details of nature found at the coast.
By Beatriz Williams
Miranda Schuyler arrives back at Greyfriars, her family’s summer home, in spring of 1969 for the first time in 18 years. Greyfriars has a view of Long Island Sound and a picturesque lighthouse, but the swirling light Miranda can see from her bedroom holds far more significance than a mere beacon of direction. A mysterious chain of events has altered the lives of the elite who summer in this shore town and their lives will never be the same.
This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine January/February 2020 issue.
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