DNF Roundup: Black Leopard, Red Wolf and Where the Crawdads Sing
Published by Riverhead Books on February 5, 2019
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Tracker is known far and wide for his skills as a hunter: "He has a nose," people say. Engaged to track down a mysterious boy who disappeared three years earlier, Tracker breaks his own rule of always working alone when he finds himself part of a group that comes together to search for the boy. The band is a hodgepodge, full of unusual characters with secrets of their own, including a shape-shifting man-animal known as Leopard.
As Tracker follows the boy's scent—from one ancient city to another; into dense forests and across deep rivers—he and the band are set upon by creatures intent on destroying them. As he struggles to survive, Tracker starts to wonder: Who, really, is this boy? Why has he been missing for so long? Why do so many people want to keep Tracker from finding him? And perhaps the most important questions of all: Who is telling the truth, and who is lying?
Drawing from African history and mythology and his own rich imagination, Marlon James has written a saga of breathtaking adventure that's also an ambitious, involving read. Defying categorization and full of unforgettable characters, Black Leopard, Red Wolf is both surprising and profound as it explores the fundamentals of truths, the limits of power, the excesses of ambition, and our need to understand them all.
The writing is beautifully executed – lyrical prose and vivid detail. But the simple truth is, the plot is so gruesome it borders on grotesque. The list of trigger warnings is nearly anything imaginable – think the worst A Song of Fire and Ice has to offer, and up the ante drastically.
I am certain this will be nominated for many, many awards, but for the common person, this is simply not readable or enjoyable. Those seeking the promise of The Lord of the Rings and Beowulf intertwined with African culture and history, you will only find the basest forms of that here.
*****Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
on August 14, 2018
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For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.
Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.
Another instance where the writing is lovely but the plot was a total snoosefest. After the brilliance that was One Day in December, I combed through all the other recommendations from Reese Witherspoon’s book club Hello Sunshine. I thought with a dead body at the beginning, there would be tension and a trail of clues, at the very least a kernel of intrigue. Nope. At over halfway in, the only mystery this book held was where the hell the mystery was. This left me underwhelmed (and really wanting a bowl of crawdads).