It’s an oppressively hot and sticky morning in June when Sterling and her brother, Phin, have an argument that compels him to run into the town swamp — the one that strikes fear in all the residents of Sticks, Louisiana. Phin doesn’t return. Instead, a girl named Lenora May climbs out, and now Sterling is the only person in Sticks who remembers her brother ever existed.
Sterling needs to figure out what the swamp’s done with her beloved brother and how Lenora May is connected to his disappearance — and loner boy Heath Durham might be the only one who can help her.
This debut novel is full of atmosphere, twists and turns, and a swoon-worthy romance.
Right away I fell in love with the language and the ease of Parker’s prose. It’s lyrical and vivid and I can hear the Louisiana accent underlying the narration. I really appreciated how original this story is, I’ve never read anything like it – yet it gave me the vibe of a good Gothic novel. It’s not outright scary, but it definitely has a creepy factor.
I like Sterling and Heath, and they both have some good growth throughout the couple weeks the book takes place. I also like that their relationship was based off an ongoing attraction, they didn’t have “instalove,” and it didn’t take over the story. Heath was there to support Sterling and to help her come to terms with the true nature of the swamp, while Sterling helped Heath face his fear of it.
Honestly, I couldn’t relate to Sterling’s relationship with her brother, but I think that’s because I am an only child and have never had that sort of relationship. The element of domestic violence did help me understand why her brother was so important to her, and along with her resulting eating disorder when she can’t face the thought of him leaving – brought in a really interesting and real element to the story that I appreciated and don’t often see.
I’m glad it’s a stand alone novel, and I will definitely keep my eye on Parker to see what she comes up with next.