Delia Owens has crafted a novel with incredible details and a protagonist who will capture your heart.
When six year old Kya is abandoned first by her mother and then her father, she is left to fend for herself in a hobbled together shack built by long deceased relatives. Taught to be aware of strangers and the civilized world beyond the Marshlands and the coast of North Carolina, Kya grows up isolated from human contact. Her friends are the denizens of the Marsh and ocean. Gulls, fireflies and every sort of animal and insect become known to her. Kya learns to fish, steer a flat bottom boat, take care of the engine and dig for mussels which she sells to a kind old colored man named Jumpin’ who runs the wharf.
Kya comes to be known as The Marsh Girl. She is gossiped about and humiliated by the towns folk.
Her one friend is a young boy named, Tate. He is as attracted to the Marsh and ocean has he is to Kya. Eventually, he teaches Kya to read. He gives her science books and poetry. But time passes and Tate must leave her to go to college. Kya feels abandoned again, and her love for Tate breaks her heart. Several years pass, Kya is now a young woman and is preyed upon by the neighboring town’s football star and playboy, Chase. He lures Kya, who is desperate for human contact, into a sexual relationship with promises of marriage. But Kya learns he has married someone else. She breaks off all contact, but he refuses to let her go. One day he attempts to rape her. Beaten and bloodied, she fights back and runs.
Yet, Kya knows he will not stop, that he will keep coming after her. She knows she can’t live in fear waiting for his next attack.
Months later, Chase is found dead from a sixty foot fall from a fire tower within the Marsh. There are no prints or anything to actually connect Kya. In fact, she has an alibi confirmed by numerous people. Still, Kya is accused and arrested. The trial is portrayed in great detail. (No spoilers here!)
This is a wonder of a novel, crafted beautifully. I loved, loved this novel and highly recommend it for New Adults and Adults.