“I hadn’t heard the sound since we’d left, years before when I was just a little girl. Back then I’d been terrified of it, and loved it just the same, the power of a sonorous layering of voices, the steady climb and crescendo of a miraculous human instrument. Now, somehow everything that had happened made me remember and obsess.”
Kimberly Brock, THE RIVER WITCH
THE RIVER WITCH, by Kimberly Brock, was published in April of this year and is 246 pages. I “met” Kimberly on Twitter, and since I’ve been on a southern reading kick, I bought her book. Brock swept me away to Manny’s Island, Georgia every time I picked up the novel, and left me longing to return when I had to put it down.
When a car crash ends ballerina Roslyn Byrne’s career and causes a miscarriage of her baby, she is broken in body and in spirit. At the urging of her mother, she travels to the Sea Isles of Georgia for escape and healing. It is on Manny’s Island that Roslyn learns that sometimes healing hurts, but that suffering can bring about more beauty and blessing than we can ever anticipate.
A superstitious local woman, a precocious ten-year-old girl named Damascus, and her elusive and troubled father, Urey, are just a few of the island’s inhabitants with whom Roslyn becomes entangled. While the locals speculate on why so many alligators have arrived at the same time as this out of towner, Roslyn makes her home in the swamps, watching over a motherless girl who thinks a crop of pumpkins will bring her a special kind of magic.
While the families unravel around her, Roslyn finds herself getting more and more lost in her own past, hearing the sweet sounds of her grandmother’s Sacred Harp singers on the breeze and in her heart. The music comes again and again throughout the book, acting as a refrain in a song reminding Roslyn of the depths of the healing she must seek in order to begin her life again.
THE RIVER WITCH is a delight from beginning to end. I could almost hear Brock’s southern accent reading the story in my ear, and her distinct style brought much color to the book. The elements of setting, magic, alligators, and pumpkins were unique, and the plot twists kept me turning pages.
As I told Kimberly, THE RIVER WITCH is a book you press to your heart and sigh when you finish because of its tender beauty and power. If you enjoy heartwarming southern stories of healing and renewal, you’ll love THE RIVER WITCH.