I had a little difficulty getting into this book, and was confused by the mythical/religious parts, but it ended up being pretty amazing. It took me a while to become accustomed to Daniel Woodrell’s poetic writing style (this is the first of his books that I’ve read), and in the beginning I thought I wouldn’t like it:
”The carcasses hung pale of flesh with a fatty gleam from low limbs of saplings in the side yards. Three halt haggard houses formed a kneeling rank on the far creekside and each had two or more skinned torsos dangling by rope from sagged limbs, venison left to the weather for two nights and three days so the early blossoming of decay might round the flavor, sweeten that meat to the bone.”
Woodrell’s writing style seemed strange and a bit pretentious (like it was trying to be a poem rather than a novel), but then once you read through it a couple more times and get used to it, it sounds appropriate and kind of beautiful. I found that happening throughout the entire book. Every time I thought I knew everything about a character or their motives or even the Ozark landscape, it would surprise me. This novel proves over and over again that people are deep, multi-faceted, unpredictable things wrapped in countless layers that can be quite deceiving. The book reads a bit like a mystery in that way, since you never know what the townspeople are going to do next and you’re going along with Ree in search of her father, who may or may not be dead. The twists and turns were exciting and devastating at the same time, and watching Ree grow up so quickly and in such hard circumstances was heart-breaking and moving. She was an amazing, honest, and intricate character – exactly what I hope for in the books I read.