Review of These Silent Woods by Kimi Cunningham Grant
The wilderness and isolation of the story combined with the looming dangers posed by the outside world make These Silent Woods feel claustrophobic as it builds to an unexpected resolution.
In the northern Appalachian mountains, Cooper and his young daughter Finch live in complete isolation. They have no electricity, no family, and almost no connection to the outside world. Which is just how Cooper wants it, because he knows it's the only way they'll be safe.
But lately Finch is starting to push back, increasingly unsatisfied with their solitary lifestyle. And when one of their tenuous links to essential supplies--and survival--breaks, Cooper and Finch realize they may be in danger greater than they'd ever imagined.
Then a stranger wanders near their remote cabin, and Cooper's longtime struggle to stay hidden seems increasingly impossible. His secrets feel sure to unravel.
This series of unexpected events upends everything for Cooper--some in the best ways and others in the worst imaginable. Chance encounters, assumptions, and suspicions could ruin his long-held, desperate plans.
The premise is a slam dunk for me, and Grant does a nice job of slowly unfurling the truth of what occurred in years past and led Cooper to his extreme lifestyle. I felt a little frustrated that Cooper didn't spend more energy during their years of isolation thinking about potential exit strategies for him and especially for his beloved Finch in order to ensure that her best interests would be considered if things went sideways. (And what was the plan to save Finch if something had happened to Cooper during the brutal years in the woods, leaving Finch vulnerable?)
This feels like a tricky story to bring to a close, and I had mixed feelings about the sacrifice at the heart of the ending as well as the somewhat neat resolution of certain matters. But I very much enjoyed my time in the woods with Cooper and especially Finch.
I received a prepublication digital edition of this book from St. Martin's Press and NetGalley.
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Kimi Cunningham Grant is also the author of Silver Like Dust, a memoir about her Japanese-American grandparents and their experiences in an internment camp during World War II, as well as the novel Fallen Mountains, a mystery set in rural Pennsylvania.