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After his mother's death, eleven-year-old Marcus is sent to live on a small South Carolina island with his great aunt, a reclusive painter with a haunted past. Aunt Charlotte, otherwise a woman of few words, points out a ruined cottage, telling Marcus she had visited it regularly after she'd moved there thirty years ago because it matched the ruin of her own life. Eventually she was inspired to take up painting so she could capture its utter desolation.

The islanders call it "Grief Cottage," because a boy and his parents disappeared from it during a hurricane fifty years before. Their bodies were never found and the cottage has stood empty ever since. During his lonely hours while Aunt Charlotte is in her studio painting and keeping her demons at bay, Marcus visits the cottage daily, building up his courage by coming ever closer, even after the ghost of the boy who died seems to reveal himself. Full of curiosity and open to the unfamiliar and uncanny given the recent upending of his life, he courts the ghost boy, never certain whether the ghost is friendly or follows some sinister agenda.

Grief Cottage is the best sort of ghost story, but it is far more than that--an investigation of grief, remorse, and the memories that haunt us. The power and beauty of this artful novel wash over the reader like the waves on a South Carolina beach.

Reviews

4.0 Stars4.0 Stars4.0 Stars4.0 Stars  by Debra Found

I am Not Sure Where the Author Was Going.......

I am not sure that I ever worked out where this book was going and consequently I am not sure if it ever got there.

Marcus is orphaned at the age of 11. His Mother goes out for a pizza and the car slips on some ice and crashes. Marcus ends up living on an island with a great-aunt that he has not met previously.

Marcus is quite a strange boy. He is perfectly happy in his own company and that of older people. He seems to struggle with people his own age. He is a bit of a cleanliness freak which is certainly unusual for an 11 year old boy! Marcus builds routines during his summer break and becomes obsessed with the boy who once lived in a wrecked cottage called Grief Cottage.

There is a lot of grief and struggle in this book. It touches on many difficult subjects including sexual abuse and the loss of friends and relatives. All of the characters seem to be a bit unusual especially his aunt, the old lady next door and his aunt's friend, Lash.

I am not exactly sure where the author wanted to take the reader. This book is certainly not designed to be simply a story of an orphaned 11 year old. Several characters, not just Marcus, are dealing with grief in different ways. The elderly neighbour, Coral Upchurch, is dealing with the recent death of her son and Marcus' Aunt has things from the past to deal with. Perhaps the author is writing about how we all deal differently with difficult situations?

Did I enjoy this book? I think so. I did like Marcus despite him being a bit odd. The author did create interesting and three dimensional characters whom I enjoyed reading about. However, despite it being a few days since I have completed this book I am still slightly at a loss as to where it was going and I am not totally sure I have fully understand what the author was trying to say.

I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley.

 
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