Author: R.K. Jackson
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Rating: 4 stars
Provided by Publisher
Blurb: Perfect for fans of Gillian Flynn, Paula Hawkins, and Tana French, R. K. Jackson’s lyrical, twisty psychological thriller debut follows an aspiring journalist as she uncovers dark truths in a seaswept Southern town—aided by a mysterious outcast and pursued by a ruthless killer.
When Martha Covington moves to Amberleen, Georgia, after her release from a psychiatric ward, she thinks her breakdown is behind her. A small town with a rich history, Amberleen feels like a fresh start. Taking a summer internship with the local historical society, Martha is tasked with gathering the stories of the Geechee residents of nearby Shell Heap Island, the descendants of slaves who have lived by their own traditions for the last three hundred years.
As Martha delves into her work, the voices she thought she left behind start whispering again, and she begins to doubt her recovery. When a grisly murder occurs, Martha finds herself at the center of a perfect storm—and she’s the perfect suspect. Without a soul to vouch for her innocence or her sanity, Martha disappears into the wilderness, battling the pull of madness and struggling to piece together a supernatural puzzle of age-old resentments, broken promises, and cold-blooded murder. She finds an unexpected ally in a handsome young man fighting his own battles. With his help, Martha journeys through a terrifying labyrinth—to find the truth and clear her name, if she can survive to tell the tale.
Review: I enjoyed this book for a lot of reasons. The colorful narrative, the unusual protagonist that I didn’t really trust–the overarching concern that her illness wasn’t quite gone, and an interesting story line that combined the superstitions surrounding an older group of the descendants of former slaves who’s formed their own culture on a small island off the coast of Georgia. Lots of stuff there!
Martha has been freed from the asylum and “cured” of her schizophrenia by her therapist Vince, who’s touting himself in the news as the latest and greatest for working with mental health patients. Once she starts working with a historical group in Amberleen and becomes pitted against the group trying to do a land-grab from the descendants of former slaves, things start to go south for Martha and her “cure.” Her schizophrenia isn’t totally controlled by the meds, and she’s still hearing voices–lots of them–which puts her at the mercy of some bad men who see her as the perfect scapegoat for their evil plans. Now they can get what they wanted and she can just go back to the loony bin. Unless…
There are strange forces working under the surface, spirits from the past trying to protect the people of Shell Heap Island and those that would watch over them. Martha’s schizophrenic voices transform into powerful visions of the past and a harried foretelling of the future. She must act to save the town and those that she’s grown to care about. But how?
There was so much to love in this book, but I became very confused in the last part. Martha’s schizophrenia became my own–I had so much trouble deciphering what was going on from all the tumult. Great book, confusing narrative. Thanks!