Stony Kill: A Novel by Marie White Small

Stony KillHello readers! I am going to try to be more consistent about posting book reviews here. I received this book, Stony Kill: A Novel, from the author, Marie White Small in exchange for an honest review. I feel bad because she gave this to me about 16 months ago. I remember because it was a week or so before I had my baby, who is now 15 and a half months old. As anyone who has children knows, life gets a good shake-down when a baby arrives, and on top of that I had some complications afterward. Everything is ok now, it just took me a year of off-and-on reading to finish this book!

For backstory, here’s the summary from Amazon:

“After the sudden death of her mother, Joss Ryckman finds herself running away from everything—the life she did not choose of managing the family bakery in Brooklyn, the troubled relationship with her sometimes violent father, and her conflicts with Wyatt, a lover who always wants more. But when she flees to the country farm of her childhood in upstate New York, will she finally find the truth of dark events in her family’s past? Or will all that she has held at bay for twenty years come crashing down? As Joss comes to terms with her loss, she is forced to confront memories of a childhood steeped in both joy and sorrow. As the past seeps in through the rich farmland and the landscape of the treacherous, churning Stony Kill, Piecing together the broken past and her family’s dysfunction, the dark secrets of a family submerged in a history of violence and regret begin to take shape, and the reality of two brutal killings can no longer be denied. Joss must make her own choices and, ultimately, let go.Rich with beautiful language and immersed in powerful descriptions of Joss’s feelings, Stony Kill tells a powerful story of the heartbreak and suffering from violent acts of a dysfunctional family, and ultimately her hope and choice of a better life.”

Overall, this was a beautifully written book: the perfect lazy summer read. I liked how thoroughly I got to know the characters, who were quite well-rounded.

The main criticism I had was that I wanted to pick up the pace–quite a bit. I enjoyed the meandering pace for awhile, but by about halfway through, I started to get a little impatient, which is probably my personality showing through more than anything. The book starts out with a murder that happens at Stony Kill, then flash-forwards to our main character. In my opinion, this murder scene is misleading. It makes it seem like the book will have an element of whodunnit mystery, when in reality, it’s a very different type of story. I spent the rest of the book wondering what that scene had to do with the story I was reading, and honestly, the main reason I stuck it out and finished the book was because I stubbornly wanted to know the resolution for the opening scene.

My criticisms, however, are not indicative of the quality of this book. The writing is strong and beautiful and is probably the perfect fit for many readers. It’s not exactly my cup of tea, but that doesn’t mean it’s not someone else’s!

4 stars out of 5

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