Goodreads: The Stillwater Girls
Publish Date: 09 April 2019
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
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.
I actually hadn’t heard of Minka Kent before I picked up this book, but the Stillwater Girls had an interesting premise (that sounded similar to another book (The Water Cure) that I’ve been wanting to read but haven’t picked up yet), so I was very excited when I got approved to read the ARC!
The pace of the writing was great, the pace was fast and I enjoyed reading from the multiple perspectives of Wren (and Sage) and (mostly) Nicolette. Minka Kent’s characters were interesting and complex. What I really liked was how the experiences shaped the intense emotions that the characters and that feeling was palpable as I read. Nicolette’s worries and desperation for something she couldn’t have were so strong that I felt myself becoming anxious, and although that anxiety was terrible, I knew that it wasn’t coming from me but from her character and the story. I admire an author’s ability to evoke such an intense reaction from their readers.
The pages were filled with mystery and intrigue and I was hooked after reading the first two perspectives, wondering how on earth these seemingly very different storylines would come together. I was properly invested in the story up until the lead up to big reveal, which in all honesty left me shouting out: “Um, What?!” It was shocking but also left me feeling a little stumped because it was just a little unbelievable. That is not to say that the story was not at times predictable, from the moment that things started unraveling for the sisters, my hunch about what happened to them was absolutely correct. However, that reveal kind of left me feeling like I had just reached the top of what I thought was a very steep roller coaster ride, only to find out that it was just a wee drop in the end. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for happy endings, but after the twist, everything “fell apart” and came together way too quickly and so perfectly, that it seemed implausible; and not only the reveal itself but the reasoning behind it. I have to say though that I’ve never read a book with a character who has experienced what Nicolette has/does, so while intriguing, I don’t know if it was really handled well. I honestly don’t think I can say more without spoilers so I will leave it there. That said, I can commend Kent for the fact that I really didn’t see that kind of twist coming, but I think I was more disappointed with the whole unraveling of the story following the reveal. If life could really be so clean and happy after something like this has happened, then I’m definitely not living that life!
Overall though, I did enjoy Minka Kent’s writing style. I liked how her writing grabbed my attention from the start and kept me sucked in all the way until the almost end with the fast pace and the intense mystery/suspense. Unfortunately though, the reveal and ending really didn’t do it for me, and while it wasn’t my worst read this year, I don’t think I’d buy it for friends or family.
Thanks to Netgalley, Minka Kent and publisher Thomas & Mercer for providing me this ARC in exchange for an honest review.