Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Cove” as Want to Read:
The Cove
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Cove

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  5,894 ratings  ·  948 reviews
The New York Times bestselling author of Serena returns to Appalachia, this time at the height of World War I, with the story of a blazing but doomed love affair caught in the turmoil of a nation at war

Deep in the rugged Appalachians of North Carolina lies the cove, a dark, forbidding place where spirits and fetches wander, and even the light fears to travel. Or so the tow
Hardcover, 255 pages
Published April 10th 2012 by Ecco (first published February 22nd 2012)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
The Fault in Our Stars by John GreenGone Girl by Gillian FlynnTell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka BruntThe Round House by Louise ErdrichThe Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson
2013 Tournament of Books Watch List
35th out of 63 books — 377 voters
A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley CashGone Girl by Gillian FlynnTell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka BruntThe Book of Jonas by Stephen DauBring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
Kirkus Best Fiction of 2012
34th out of 100 books — 55 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details

another quietly wonderful book from ron rash, about a couple of outcasts trying to grab a little happiness out of a life filled with loss and loneliness.

this one takes place in north carolina during WWI,in a remote and "gloamy" cove, where a brother and sister live isolated by superstition and circumstances. the sister,laurel, has a large purple birthmark believed by the entire outlying town to be a sign of witchcraft,and the cove where the two reside is believed to be haunted. after t
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Jul 22, 2013 Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Southern Gothic Lit
Recommended to Florence (Lefty) by: Kwoomac
Recently infatuated with southern lit I just had to give Ron Rash a try. With racism, poverty & superstition & the inclusion of an ill fated love affair, slot this one as ‘contemporary southern gothic.’ Yes, it’s melancholy and slow paced at the start but so superbly written that it’s a joy to read.
Set at the end of WW1 and told through Laurel’s eyes, a simple tale of a birth-marked woman shunned by the locals as a witch –of her lonely life with only her brother Hank, a wounded WW1 vete
Will Byrnes
UPDATED - 4/3/12 - see link at bottom

The Cove, a remote locale in North Carolina, is a cursed place, or so everyone seems to think. The story opens in the 1950s when a man from the TVA comes by, preparing the area for flooding as part of a dam project. That the elders he encounters think burying the cove under tons of water is a good idea offers a first indication of trouble. When the man, trying for a drink in a well near some abandoned buildings at the site, brings up murky water covering a sk
This was a wonderful historical story and Ron Rash is a writer to add alongside great southern gothic styled writers. Just as many have mentioned Ron Rash strikes up feelings of being present with great writers such as Steinbeck and Cormac McCarthy.
This story leaves a mark with characters that are lonely and modest, rich in kindness and deeply warm to others even though they face inequalities due to race, heritage and have been marked in a superstitious ways as cursed. A brother and a sister are
3 1/2 stars.

The small, isolated community of Mars Hill, North Carolina, continues to cling to the prejudices and Appalachian superstitions of another century in the wake of World War I. Its men have been to fight in foreign lands, encountered the awesome terror of modernized warfare, and yet still harbor a profound fear of a young woman who lives sadly and quietly in a place simply known as "The Cove." Laurel Shelton's life, thanks to the people of Mars Hill, has not been an easy one. Marked by
switterbug (Betsey)
Ron Rash has a sublime sense of place, atmospheric detail and colloquial manners. The Appalachian landscapes in his novels are vivid, rugged. Colors, smells, and sounds take on a sentient quality, and there's a brutal, timeless delicacy to his terrains. Moment to moment, you move from the crest of creation to the threat of destruction. His stories convey themselves through the power of domain. His latest is a testament to the most fertile aspects of his craft, which shimmer through an otherwise ...more
First review of 2014...wohoo!

I like to think that I have eclectic reading tastes, meaning that while I have preferences when it comes to my reading choices, I find I like lots of different styles, genres, and stories for lots of different reasons.

But this ... The Cove, this is the kind of book that hits my literary G-spot. Okay, I know: a little crude, too much information, whatever--but true.

You see, I love Southern Gothic fiction--Flannery O'Connor, one of my heroines; Erskine Caldwell, a geni
This book really got to me when I read it, and it has quietly haunted me ever since. I find myself thinking of the characters some times, and still bothered by the ugly truths of prejudice and human nature that the author captured so powerfully. I think it's the subtle, quiet power of the book which makes it so effective, and the evocative portrait of the South. I have a real love/hate relationship with the region I was born in, and Rash captures it perfectly: wildness, beauty, spirit...but all ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Readers who prefer atmosphere over action will savor the first 150 pages of The Cove. It took me days to get through that first 150 pages, then I blew through the final 100 pages all in one day. It's quite a contrast in pacing and tone, and it gets surprisingly suspenseful near the end. So have a little patience and your payoff will come.

After a prologue in which a human skull is found in the cove's well in the 1950s, Ron Rash treats us to a leisurely buildup in which the skull is all but forgo
The story takes place 3 miles from the town of Mars Hill, NC. I live 2 miles from Mars Hill so I keep looking out my windows trying to find the cove that he talks about! So far, no luck. I'm not a great fan of Ron Rash and this one is distracting since it involves so many nearby localities. More later.

So, now I've finished it and am trying to figure out why I disliked it so much. Because it takes place where I live, all of the historical inconsistencies really bothered me. He has the French
2 stars - Meh. Just ok.

This was your classic case of, receiving the unexpected. I have heard so many wonderful things about Ron Rash and expected dark southern lit with a poignant plot and atmospheric backdrop. What I received instead was a heavy helping of romance with a side of historical fiction and a tiny dash of southern lit.

To the contrary, some of my favorite Goodreads reviewers did find this one to be atmospheric. Maybe it's me, or maybe it is because I am so familiar with the Appalachi
William Clemens
This is one of those books where I just don't understand why people are loving it so much. I found it incredibly hard to slog through, full of characters who are so one dimensional I couldn't take them seriously, and set against a backdrop that just didn't impress.

Everyone seems to go on about the nature in the book, and how it captures the feel of Appalachia, but I just didn't see it. He certainly mentions nature, and goes on about how dark the cove is and how bright it makes the sun feel, but
Enjoyed this one even more than his best known book, Serena, which is being made into a movie starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper.

Started off quite slowly but developed into a really interesting story once it became clear who "Walter" was. Fascinating true-life background story about the "Vaterland" ship impounded by the US during WW1 plus persecution of German citizens as well.

The best novels always have great endings and this one was very clever (and satisfying) - led you to believe
Larry Bassett
I recently read Serena also by Ron Rash. I was expecting another book of the same intensity and was initially disappointed by how slow The Cove started out and what a different kind of book it is. I read a few reviews and was reassured that author Rash was not going to let me down. I am glad I stuck with it. While I was not completely able to disassociate the two books, it is nice to see an author who can use his writing skills to set such different moods. I probably needed more space between th ...more
The dank and dangerous cylinder of a new well, where the walls could collapse at any moment, crushing the digger in a muddy grave; a valley so overwhelmed by a cliff of granite that light shudders and dies in its wet shadow; a voice choked from sound, leaving a man trapped in silence; a young woman isolated by fear and suspicion in a remote mountain cabin: these are the acedian images Ron Rash writes to sobering effect in The Cove.

This is a novel of a place seemingly suspended in time, a forgott
4.5 Stars
Wow. It's the prose, really. It's lyrical and dark then some light shines through.

There are really three points of view in this story. Laurel is a lonely woman living a sad existence in the cursed cove where both her mother and father died and Laurel herself was pronounced a witch due to a port wine stain on shoulder. When she enters town, people cross the street so as not to meet her. She is treated with fear and disdain. Her prospects of happiness are slim. While her brother, who was
Bonnie Brody
The Cove, by Ron Rash, is very different from his previous book, Serena. While Serena was chock-filled with action and hell-and-damnation type characters, this book meanders more slowly. The title of the book refers to one of the lesser-used meanings of the word - a narrow gap or pass between hills or woods; a cave or cavern. The place where Laurel and her brother live is dark and eerie without much light, set in the deep forest of North Carolina where once the Carolina Parakeet found its home. ...more
This book starts off very slowly. It took me a while to become invested in the characters. Once I did, I flew through the pages. In the prologue, which takes place in 1957, something is found during a final walk-through before the government floods the cove to become a lake, which informs the reader something bad happened here.

The story of what happened then unfolds. It takes place in a small town in Madison County, North Carolina at the tail end of WWI. Author Ron Rash does an incredible job o
I'm always joyous to find new writers whom I love & this Ron Rash man is my new discovery. I loved this book immensely. I loved the story & I loved the writing. It was darn near flawless. No, I'll just say it: it was flawless. Every single character is well developed, 3 dimensional, with layers & layers about their person to be discovered & to either like, dislike, fear, distrust or sympathize with. The ending didn't go where I thought it would thus impressing me even more as I l ...more
Mar 05, 2014 Elizabeth rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Deb B.
Shelves: fiction
Grave and deliberate story set in the Appalachian mountains. This is a book (though) that is not about the story. It is about the writing and atmosphere. Beautiful and complex.

Mostly, "The Cove" is about being an outsider. ENJOY...

p.s. reminds me a bit of "Nightwoods" by Charles Frazier.
Shellie (Layers of Thought)
Original review posted at Layers of Thought.

4.5 stars actually!

A dark and tragic World War I historical fable that examines the role of superstition and patriotism gone awry within the rural Appalachian mountains.

About: Pretty and smart Laurel lives in a gloomy cove that her parents purchased many years before within the iconic Appalachian mountains. The superstitious locals believe the area is haunted, think Laurel is a witch, and believe that she and the cove are the cause of any bad luck or m
Find the enhanced version of this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

Do you remember high school when you came in on Friday morning and you were the only person whose parents wouldn’t let them go to the midnight showing of the season’s biggest blockbuster? All your classmates were talking about it and there you were wondering what the buzz was all about. That’s how I feel about Ron Rash’s The Cove.

Rash has been credited for his stunningly recreation of the atmosphere
Chauncey Feith, worst person ever. Pompous, cowardly, (view spoiler) and removes many library books from the shelves & doesn't put them away or even on a sorting cart for the shelver. Jerk. With about 12-15 pages left in this, I wanted to stop reading. There was clearly no way that this could work out happily for the characters I cared about. And I was right, but dammit, Ron Rash, I kept on reading. He just has that power o ...more
Amy Pyles
This is the type of book that, after reading, I can say that I appreciated. I cannot say that I liked it. The writing style is lyrical and almost poetic, and Rash does a great job of creating atmosphere and place. I, however, am a sucker for plot and characterization, and this novel fell short on both accounts.
Christopher H.
What a poignantly beautiful little novel. This is the story of a young woman, Laurel, who lives in a small valley (the "cove") in the Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina. Laurel is basically shunned by all of the folks that live around her because of her port-wine stain birthmark that they believe marks her as a witch. This novel takes place several months after America's entry in the First World War.

During the course of the novel we meet Laurel's older brother, who has returned from

I don't know why it is that when I encounter an author I like (like one of Ron Rash's caliber), I tend to nitpick and hold their works to a higher standard. My first encounter with Mr. Rash was this novel, The Cove. I immediately found his story-telling prowess engaging and wholly interesting, loved his lyrical, almost poetic prose, but still and yet, while I was immediately convinced (with The Cove's eerie set-up) of Mr. Rash's talent, and was left (with its powerful ending) with the satisfacti
Set in the rugged Appalachians of North Carolina at the height of WWI, we meet Laurel Shelton. She is seen as an outcast or witch due to an unusual birthmark and local superstitions about The Cove where she lives. Her parents have died and her brother Hank comes back from the war minus a hand. While walking through the cove and listening to birdsong, she comes across a young man playing a silver flute. Laurel stays hidden, visiting him almost daily, but never revealing herself until the day she ...more
This is a beautiful and heartbreaking book. Set in the Appalachians during WWI and hate towards Germans is running rampant with the help of one fervent recruiter Chauncey who is on a witch hunt for anything German. At the same time on a farm in the cove lives Laurel a young woman with a wine splotch birthmark that people in town say is a curse and call her a witch and the townspeople won’t let her go to school because she may harm their children. A superstitious lot they are, that makes for a lo ...more
Regina Spiker
Such a beautiful, quiet, haunting book....of wrongdoings, bittersweet love, fear and judgment, brave heroes and shameful cowards, and life-changing secrets.

Set in the mountains and coves of North Carolina, the main character, lovely, lonely Laurel Shelton, is thought to be a witch by the superstitious people of Mars Hill - her birthmark proves it according to them. Laurel lives in a backwoods cove, so deep that the sun only dapples it occasionally, with her war hero brother Hank. While walking t
In a sun-starved cove in Appalachia, maligned siblings Hank and Laurel carry on chores on the blighted family farm. It's 1918, and Hank is back from the front (minus a hand, but otherwise undiminished ) and Laurel, afflicted with a prominent birthmark, is the brunt of the townspeople's superstitious prejudices. One day, she hears what she thinks is birdsong and happens upon a flute-playing stranger...

This manages to be both lyrical and grave, and, after a first reading, a shade too simple. In sp
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Is Rash worthy of the Steinbeck mantle? 5 53 Oct 31, 2013 11:59AM  
Lake Wales Public...: Night Owls Book Discussion 2 8 Jul 24, 2013 10:31AM  
Mysteries & C...: February Group Read: The Cove 48 106 Mar 15, 2013 05:14AM  
  • My Old True Love
  • Cataloochee
  • A Land More Kind Than Home
  • Heading Out to Wonderful
  • The Clearing
  • A Parchment of Leaves
  • The Invisible Ones
  • The Tilted World
  • Nightwoods
  • The Coldest Night
  • The Long Home
  • Ghost on Black Mountain
  • A Single Shot
  • In Sunlight and in Shadow
  • Signs in the Blood (An Elizabeth Goodweather Appalachian Mystery #1)
  • Bloodroot
  • Father and Son
  • Lightning Bug
Ron Rash is the author of the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Finalist and New York Times bestselling novel, Serena, in addition to three other prizewinning novels, One Foot in Eden, Saints at the River, and The World Made Straight; three collections of poems; and four collections of stories, among them Burning Bright, which won the 2010 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, and Chemistry and Other St ...more
More about Ron Rash...
Serena One Foot in Eden Saints at the River Burning Bright: Stories The World Made Straight

Share This Book

“Maybe calling it being hitched ain’t the prettiest way to say you’re married, but it’s the truth to my mind and true in a good way, because you’re working together and depending on each other, and you’re sharing the load.” 6 likes
“The lift of her heart she'd felt on the outcrop she now felt again, and it wasn't just love. She'd felt love before, known its depths when her mother died.
This was something rarer. Happiness, Laurel thought, that must be what this is.”
More quotes…