Alicia Duggan of The Bookshop with her latest review.

This beautifully written debut novel by Delia Owens is part murder mystery, part coming of age novel but mostly a story of survival and hope.

Kya lives in the marshlands of North Carolina. When she is six her mother walks out on the family leaving Kya with her brother, who leaves soon after, and her alcoholic and often violent father who spends less and less time at home and eventually disappears leaving Kya to fend for herself.

Labelled by the people of the local village as “swamp trash” Kya keeps to herself, isolated, lonely, and making money however she can. The swamp and its wildlife become her family. Time passes and her isolation grown until Tate, an old friend of her brother, befriends Kya and teaches her to read, opening up a world of possibilities to her.

It is a captivating tale of love, loss, murder, racism, social division and the human condition.

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