ARC Book Review: The Stillwater Girls

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Title_ Author_ Page Count_ Publish Date_ Publisher_ (14)Two sisters raised in fear are about to find out why in a chilling novel of psychological suspense from the author of The Thinnest Air.

Ignorant of civilization and cautioned against its evils, nineteen-year-old Wren and her two sisters, Sage and Evie, were raised in off-the-grid isolation in a primitive cabin in upstate New York. When the youngest grows gravely ill, their mother leaves with the child to get help from a nearby town. And they never return.

As months pass, hope vanishes. Supplies are low. Livestock are dying. A brutal winter is bearing down. Then comes the stranger. He claims to be looking for the girls’ mother, and he’s not leaving without them.

To escape, Wren and her sister must break the rule they’ve grown up with: never go beyond the forest.

Past the thicket of dread, they come upon a house on the other side of the pines. This is where Wren and Sage must confront something more chilling than the unknowable. They’ll discover what’s been hidden from them, what they’re running from, and the secrets that have left them in the dark their entire lives.

My review

I received a free, advanced reading copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the publisher for the reading & reviewing opportunity.

Rating: 3.75 stars

This is a hard one to review because while I was really enraptured by it, there was so much that felt unrealistic or difficult to believe. Let me give it my best shot.

This book is really two separate, very different stories that merge into one. And I really love those kind of books under almost any circumstances, so long as the author can make it all come together in a way that makes sense. And this… kind of does? Essentially, the story is split up in two parts: Wren’s narration, and Nicolette’s. Wren is a 19 year old girl who has lived with her two sisters and mother in a secluded cabin for practically all of her life. The girls know very little about the world beyond the woods besides what their mother has told them. Nicolette is a thirty-something year old woman who has been married for over a decade. She’s suddenly convinced that her husband has been cheating on her, and she’s on a mission to get hard evidence. How, you may wonder, could these two stories possibly connect? 

(I’m not going to spoil that for you, because I do think it was an interesting twist, albeit the fairly unrealistic circumstances surrounding everything)

A book like this can be hard to review in a normal way because mysteries or suspense stories aren’t usually set up to give you lots of character development or time to work out how you feel about the plot. They are generally pretty fast paced, and the reader has to be kept in the dark for a lot of the story so that they don’t see the big reveal coming. This followed those guidelines pretty well, though I will admit that some of the plot was a bit predictable. I most certainly didn’t see that big plot twist coming but there was a good amount of this book that you can foresee pretty easily. 

Despite that fact, what made me really enjoy this read was the writing and narration. I’ve never read a Minka Kent novel before but based on other reviews, it seems a lot of people really enjoy her work. Her writing was phenomenal for me and made for a really great reading experience. The way she sets up scenarios reminded me a lot of Gillian Flynn, and since she’s one of my favorite authors, that’s a good thing. The split between the story telling also gives for an all-around type of experience. These two women seem so vastly different and (mentally) worlds away, yet their stories intertwine in a dark, twisted way. That’s my kind of book. I didn’t necessarily feel connected to either of them but I was very invested in their stories.

Overall, it was a decent time if you enjoy psychological thrillers. It certainly had my mind rushing to try to figure out what exactly was going on, and for that reason, I read this entire thing in one day. It didn’t fail to keep me interested at all. It lacks the well-planned ending I was hoping for (really, the big reveal almost feels like someone was presented with this story and forced to come up with a way to make it all fit together in 2 minutes) but it’s still pretty enjoyable. Basically, I’m not mad at it. 

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