Book Review: The River Witch

October 18, 2012 book review, books, She Reads, women's fiction 4

By: Kimberly Brock

Published by: Bell Bridge Books, April 2012

Length: 246 pages

Source: Publisher and generous author

Roslyn Byrne is a woman broken in body and spirit, she’s recovering from an awful car accident and the loss of a child. No longer able to dance professionally,she retreats to an island off the coast of Georgia, renting a house from a mysterious family…a family with as many or more secrets than herself.  Roslyn meets Damascus, a young girl whose mother has died and her father is running around lost…not being the father she needs, or not in a way that anyone can see.  Roslyn and Damascus appear to need each other, and to teach each other lessons that no one else has been able to make clear to them.  Damascus teaches her about alligators and the river she is named for.  Roslyn gives back to her a sense of belonging, a place to be herself and more.

The music and the imagery created in this book is both haunting and beautiful. Author Kimberly Brock introduced me to Sacred Harp music, a particular style of vocal music made popular in the Protestant South.  I had to search out some samples to understand the music more.  It was the music of Roslyn’s Granny, the music of her past.  To appreciate the way Brock writes I’ve taken a selection of when she is watching Urey Trezevant, Damascus’ father one morning. (page 68)

I knew the lines of the human form. I’d spent my life in the pursuit of unattainable perfection.  But the sight of this man was as purely beautiful  as I’d ever seen in his imperfect struggle against the current. He braced his legs wide, pulled the net in slowly, deliberately, and repeated the action again and again in a gentle rhythm that seemed to me to be the purpose for which his body was created.  

The colorful cast of characters in this book keep the story lively and we see there is much more to both these families. 

I was blown away by this debut novel.  The story sounds simple at first glance but there is so much more going on with the two main characters.  I loved how Roslyn who was so unsure about motherhood and herself became the love and strength that Damascus needed.  Others show Roslyn that her life is not over, that she has gifts and talents to share with others, and perhaps this theme is one that is shown with many characters in this book.  Urey needs to move on, his sister Ivey needs to do more with her life, Damascus needs a stable family, she is bright and eager to love. 

I “met” Kimberly Brock on twitter, and her kindness and sincere likability was what made me want to read this book so very much.  This book was a pleasure to read, and I’ve given it 4.5 out of 5 stars, I highly recommend to those who enjoy women’s fiction, and coming of age stories. 

Please look up Kimberly Brock on her website and on twitter at @kimberlydbrock.  I know there are more beautiful book she will be sharing with us. 

4 Responses to “Book Review: The River Witch”

  1. Zibilee

    This sounds very moving, and the story between the women really attracts me. I love to read about female friendships, and to hear you say that this was an excellent read really makes me want to pick it up when I can. Thanks for such a enthusiastic and wonderful review!

  2. Erika Marks

    This book is magnificent–I was so moved and so impressed by Kim’s gifts as a writer. That she’s such a sweetheart really is icing on the cake!:)

    A wonderful review, Anita!

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