These Silent Woods ~ by Kimi Cunningham Grant

This is a more a genre fiction with some crime involved than it is a typical crime novel.  The main tension driving this novel are the questions  “What did he do?”  And “Will they be found?”  

These Silent Woods
by Kimi Cunningham Grant 
2020 / 
Read by Bronson Pinchot, Stephanie Willis
Rating:  7+ / genre fiction -crime 

Ken Cooper, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, and his young daughter Finch (aka Elizabeth), live seriously “off the grid” in a remote part of the Appalachians.  Finch is 8 years old now and this is the only life she’s ever known. There’s no electricity, no contact with the outside world except for an old army buddy whose land they live on and who visits occasionally to bring supplies.  

Their only neighbor is another recluse named Scotland who spies on them and becomes friendly with Finch. Much of the book is about how Cooper and Finch manage their daily lives out there lacking contact with anyone except Scotland. Finch has never been to a store, never seen a movie, never been to school. Cooper is doing his best, but he’s a bit paranoid because he fears his past will catch up with him.

The author gives the backstory in pieces using several chapters scattered through the novel. Mom was killed in a car/deer accident and her parents didn’t think Cooper was a good idea for a dad. – they never have. Cooper had problems after Afghanistan and that’s described.

It’s a very compelling tale and the narration is excellent (Pinchot, is a personal favorite). The writing is smooth with good tension, interesting characters and a few sharp twists. That said it’s definitely not a thriller, in the usual sense of the term. There is more tension than in your usual general fiction, but that alone doesn’t make it a thriller.  

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3 Responses to These Silent Woods ~ by Kimi Cunningham Grant

  1. Lisa Hill says:

    Goodness, what a dreadful situation for a child to be in.
    Wouldn’t the authorities take an interest in a child who doesn’t go to school? Is he home-schooling her?


    • Yes – and he was doing a very good job, too. I think the US is very lax about home schooling. If someone has never been to school no one looks for them. If they moves no one looks for them at the new school. If asked the parent say we’re home schooling. It’s very easy to get an approval in some places. The book takes place somewhere in the Appalachians so that could be pretty remote.

      I’m interested in these “off the grid” people. There’s a very good book called “Educated” by Tara Westover – I don’t know if you’d get it in Australia. They lived in Idaho which has some pretty right-wing people now. It’s usually done here for religious reasons but sometimes because of crime and standards.


      • Lisa Hill says:

        Yes, I’ve heard of the Westover book, she got quite a bit of air time to talk about it.
        I was listening to someone (I forget who) talking about how measuring a country’s GDP doesn’t tell you whether it’s educating its citizens well (or taking care of other needs.) When I was teaching and taking an interest in comparative education systems, the US came out badly, considering how wealthy it is. The long term consequence of that is that lots of talent and brainpower gets wasted.


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