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Saturday, December 14, 2019

Feral Child Novel Tells a Compelling, Stick-With-You Story

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Tiny River Valley, Washington, is nestled between the ocean and Olympic National Forest, the last hamlet of civilization before the deep, impenetrable woods take over.  When a young, feral girl walks out of the trees, Police Chief Ellie Barton is immediately drawn to the obviously traumatized child.  Although she's desperate to find the girl's identity, she soon realizes she's out of her league.  More like a wild animal than a human, the child seems unreachable.  Ferreting out her secrets will require more patience and skill than Ellie possesses.  It's time to call in a professional; her younger sister just happens to be one.

After a terrible tragedy very publicly calls into question Julia Cates' abilities as a psychiatrist, leaving her career in ruins, the 35-year-old is not quite sure how to recover.  When she receives a frantic call from her sister begging her to come back to River Valley, Julia jumps at the opportunity.  Just like Ellie, she becomes entranced with the enigmatic girl she dubs Alice.  As Julia slowly earns Alice's trust, the child's horrifying story starts to trickle out.  While Julia desires only to protect her young client, she's consumed by difficult questions.  What really happened to Alice?  How can Julia help her heal from the terror she's experienced in her short life?  And, most disturbing of all, should she be returned to her family?  Childless Julia can't bear the thought of letting Alice go.  What will happen to both of them when push comes to shove?

The topic of feral children fascinates me, so I couldn't resist picking up Magic Hour by Kristin Hannah.  The premise is intriguing, the characters are engaging, the plot is surprising, and Hannah's prose is always on par.  While there are a few story elements that struck me as far-fetched, overall I really enjoyed Magic Hour.  It's engrossing and moving, which makes it a story that has stayed in my mind even though I read it back in August.  I've been a big Kristin Hannah fan since reading and loving The Nightingale and The Great Alone and I definitely intend to keep exploring her backlist, especially if it yields more gems like this one. 

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia and If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (a few F-bombs, plus milder expletives), violence, mild sexual content, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of Magic Hour with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

1 comment:

  1. I am planning on reading Kristin Hannah's Winter Garden this holiday season and am so glad to hear this one is good, too.


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