Twenty years ago Lucie Bowen left Marrow Island; along with her mother, she fled the aftermath of an earthquake that compromised the local refinery, killing her father and ravaging the island’s environment. Now, Lucie’s childhood friend Kate is living within a mysterious group called Marrow Colony—a community that claims to be “ministering to the Earth.” There have been remarkable changes to the land at the colony’s homestead. Lucie’s experience as a journalist tells her there’s more to the Colony—and their charismatic leader– than they want her to know, and that the astonishing success of their environmental remediation has come at great cost to the Colonists themselves. As she uncovers their secrets and methods, will Lucie endanger more than their mission? What price will she pay for the truth?
Marrow Island was a lyrical and deeply strange book. When I read the blurb about a month ago, I thought it would be something similar to the film The East (which I love), but it was a very different kind of story.
I don’t understand much about ecology or environmental issues, but reading about people living different kind of lives has always amazed me and that’s why I’m always drawn to books about cults or closed communities. This novel was about a woman, Lucie Bowen, who decides to visit a friend who’s living in a small eco-commune (Marrow Colony) in order to write about their project. But what seemed at first sight an idyllic ecosystem turns out to be something much more sinister. Lucie did live on the island when she was a kid but an earthquake that caused the dead of her father made her leave Marrow and settle in the city.
Marrow Island won’t be a book for everyone, but it’s definitely one I loved reading. It was so different from my usual thrillers that I found myself completely captivated by the island, its rich history and the fascinating relationship between Lucie and Kate. I even learnt some stuff about species and ecology.
The writing was flawless and I couldn’t stop turning the pages, but at the same time I felt like the story could’ve been better if it had focused more on the island itself. My only issue with Marrow Island is that, after a perfect and immediately mesmerizing prologue, the book focused too much on the aftermath of what happened instead of the actual event.
And wouldn’t it have been better if we spent more days in Marrow Island? Exploring the surroundings, learning more about the members of the Colony, about Sister J… Giving Lucie time to become much more attached to it. I don’t know, it felt like the author had missed an opportunity here.
Have you read Marrow Island? I’m very curious to know what you thought about this book and if you share my opinion. I’m so glad I got to read this short book that managed to surprise me and leave me wanting for more.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.