Stormy Cove by Bernadette Calonego | Rating: ★★★☆☆
As a note, an e-galley of this novel was sent to me via Net Galley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.
"People trim their truth the way they want it, my love."
Navigating a thriller can be an incredibly difficult thing to do for both writer and reader. You have so much you have to work with when it comes down to treading those waters: likable characters, suspicious ones, high stakes and suspense, and of course conclusions as you wrap up the mystery of it all. Stormy Cove, although not my favorite read this year, manages to hit all those marks and then some.
This, entirely, has to do with the vivid setting and the sparks of mystery within. Bernadette Calonego creates a delightfully unique thriller for us to get lost in and I can guarantee many moments in which the reader will be on the edge of their seats wondering what's next and who the bad guy really is. Toss in the complexities of a small town and the way its residence entwine with one another, as well the gossip that comes in tow of such.
Stormy Cove is the ultimate read for a stormy, summer's night. I felt very satisfied with the conclusion and the revelations of a series of deaths as well as our leading ladies', let's call her, benefactor.
What is most striking about this series, beyond its setting and dark themes, is the way Stormy Cove's residence seem to--shall we say--stick together. They stick together as easily as they gossip amongst themselves and Calonego pulls this off beautiful, giving readers a real sense of the life and times of a small village. When you're in a setting that is as small as this one, characters can blend in with one another and may not have much of a purpose, but Bernadette's development shines in not just the main characters but a good chunk of minor ones, too. I really liked how each character had a purpose and a role to play when it comes down to various archetypes.
Some of them will surprise you. Which leads me to our main character, Lori Flemming. Lori is a photographer based in Vancouver and often finds herself traveling for her work. It should be noted that she is incredibly passionate about what she does and some of my favorite passages in Stormy Cove were when she spoke of photography and you could feel it. Indeed, Calonego's descriptions of Lori's photography were like looking through the lends of a camera itself. I loved her portrayal of this lifestyle.
Our story is set into motion when a mysterious woman--Mona, requests and enlists Lori's knack for photography and sends her off, for a year, to the chilly Newfoundland. Lori's task is a simple one: to observe and photograph the community of Stormy Cove for a book of photography. The request is an odd one, yet Lori takes it up nonetheless to see somewhere new. Upon her arrival, Lori meets several interesting characters along the way and soon, after traveling, settles into this community that is just as mysterious to her as she is to them.
Beyond all the gossip and chilly weather, Stormy Cove has a few dark secrets under its belts. From a bizarre threesome Lori overhears, to the unsolved murder of a young girl twenty-odd years ago, to a missing woman, there are plenty of plot lines to throw you on your ass with the mystery of it all. But what will be uncovered? And what happens when another young woman, a traveler much like Lori, is reported missing and later found dead? Gossip takes its hold on these citizens as more and more history is dug up.
I really enjoyed getting to know Lori and he community. I also was totally into the romance between Lori and Noah, who had an interesting--and calm--sort of chemistry. I loved the slow burn of it all and I loved hearing about Lori's life before the story began: the devastating loss of her brother and father when she was young, her relationship with her mother, being separated from her son as he spends time with his father in Germany, the Katja (forgive me if that's not the right spelling) incident and why she is always close to her camera. I also enjoyed the main mysterious and how they were solved--we got a bit of closer, which is so important.
Naturally, I won't be spoiling it. But there were some moments I didn't like--I found myself dozing often when it came to more minor plot details, like life and careers in Stormy Cove. I'm not much of a hunter. Calonego's prose is so deep and vivid that it's not an unpleasant look into their lives but even still it wasn't my cup of tea. Still, Stormy Cove is a solid read that many men and women will find themselves enjoying and wondering. I can't say that I would ever pick it up again but I did enjoy it in the moment. My suggestion is to save it for a storm-filled night, grab a hot drink and kick back, relax, with it for as long as you can.
Trigger warnings: death and a very unpleasant description of how one of the dead women was found.