Rating: 3 / 5
Rye Curtis’s Kingdomtide is a sparing, motley story of an elderly woman’s struggle to survive after a plane crash strands her in the Montana wilderness, the park ranger who leads her rescue efforts, and the intimate struggles facing each of them.
Thank you to Little Brown for the advanced copy of this book!
Cloris Waldrip is alone in the rugged, unforgiving Montana wilderness, she’s in her 70s, and her husband of fifty years is lying dead in a tree after the plane crash. Ranger Lewis is also in the Montana wilderness, but by choice and not quite alone, although she feels it. As Cloris struggles to survive, so, too, does Lewis – each must make uncharacteristic decisions to stay alive.
Please take caution while reading Kingdomtide if any of the following topics may trigger you:
- Animal death
- Death / dying
- Mental illness / ableism
Kingdomtide is an utterly unique novel, for which one (perhaps any) genre is not a fit. This book was worlds away from what I thought it would be. Complex, quiet, laborious, wild, intimate – these words are the best that I can do to describe such a unique, perplexing novel.
Cloris is an amazing protagonist – an elderly woman kicking ass in the wilderness with no training or particular know-how, just an inexplicably unwavering will to continue living. As she travels through the wilderness, she thinks back on the wonderful and terrible moments, and, often, the triviality, of her life pre-plane crash. She is fascinating, and Curtis writes her with ingenuity – she is writing (presumably) some sort of book about her experience.
Ranger Lewis, on the other hand, is dull and unhappy with no spark. As a character, she is fully unlikable and strange. The chapters from her point of view are more laborious than Cloris’s, and also more bizarre. Ranger Lewis is trying, and failing, to find herself and happiness – this is compelling, surely, but in a very quiet, slow-going manner.
Curtis’s writing is dry, and for good reason. Neither woman is flashy – they tell it like it is, and say no more or less than is needed. This makes for a very unique, curious reading experience that you may love or hate. One thing is for sure – you won’t have found this style in many other novels.
Kingdomtide is so unique and odd that I don’t know who to recommend it to. If you’re up for a bit of a challenge or want to take a leap into the unknown, the unconventional, this may just be the book for you. On the other hand, if you prefer to stick with what you know – contemporary, women’s, general fiction, for example – you may not enjoy this.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my thoughts on Kingdomtide. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the novel in the comments or at my Instagram, @bookmarkedbya!