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These Silent Woods, Kimi Cunningham Grant: A Review

I love survivalist narratives. Give me all the Les Strouds and seasons of Alone, and I'm a happy girl. So when I read the synopsis for These Silent Woods, I knew I had to request it.

Cooper and Finch live in a cabin in the remote Appalachian woods. Surviving off the land, he teaches her to hunt and scavenge, relying on yearly trips from his friend for bigger supply runs. But when Jake doesn't show one year and an unexpected guest arrives, the precarious life Cooper's been hiding behind is threatened. Now, he must make the ultimate choice and face the past that haunts him before it's too late. I really enjoyed this book. As a protagonist, Cooper was a wonderfully layered character. His choices aren't black and white, and while we get glimpses of his transgressions, Grant is able to weave the tension into each loaded moment until the truth is revealed. Finch and Marie are also equally interesting, and my favorite moments were the interactions in their bubble. I think many readers will fall in love with their dynamic. I loved that this wasn't an action-packed book of snipers and intrigue, but rather a quiet study of mental health and redemption. On the one hand, we get Cooper clearly suffering from PTSD and the after-effects of war. This is a trend I'm seeing more of lately, and I cannot get enough of it. It is so, so important to explore the ramifications war has on soldiers, the lingering traumas and reticence to seek help, and Grant handled the subject with grace and sensitivity. On the other hand, we get this fork-in-the-road. An impossible moral choice that forces Cooper down a soul-searching path of acceptance and redemption. No spoilers, but the slow build final chapters both broke and shaped my heart, and I think this will be a homerun for a lot of readers. Overall, These Silent Woods is a tense, heartbreaking journey of a father's love and the people we choose to let into our lives. Big thanks to Minotaur for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.

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