Bootleg Cove by Devin Govaere

Bootleg Cove by Devin Govaere
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal, Horror, Historical
Length: Short Story (85 pages)
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Who knows the secret of Bootleg Cove?

Young widow Willie Douglas recently moved to remote, isolated Bootleg Cove on the Chesapeake Bay with her four-year-old son. Her plan—to renovate and re-open an abandoned restaurant. Almost as soon as she arrived, a handyman showed up out of the blue, offering to help. Then Amanda and Sam, two apparently orphaned teenagers, came to her door in need of help and a place to stay.

But it’s not just the sweltering heat that’s wearing on Willie’s already fragile emotions. Her mysterious handyman seems to know more than he’s willing to say, Amanda and Sam are acting very strangely indeed, and Willie’s beginning to realize that all three of her houseguests have more history with Bootleg Cove than she could ever have imagined. Willie is seeing too many things that she either can’t explain or refuses to believe. But the most shocking revelation about Bootleg Cove is still to come…

Everyone needs a second chance sometimes. Little does Willie know just where hers might lead her, though.

Willie’s many strengths and weaknesses are slowly revealed as she adjusts to her new life in Bootleg Cove. She is a fascinating protagonist whose choices amused, perplexed, intrigued, and occasionally irritated me. Seeing how she changes as the plot progresses was one of my favorite parts of this story as it was written so believably. The amount of character development is typically what I’d hope to see in a full-length novel. Packing it into such a short amount of space isn’t easy, yet Ms. Govaere makes it look effortless.

One subplot is given a disproportionate amount of time to build up tension in the first few chapters. The premise of it is quite scary. Based on how much energy certain characters exert dancing around the issue, I expected it to dominate many more scenes than it actually did. It would have been helpful to know a little bit more about the rules governing this issue in this universe so that I could have more easily understood what the author was trying to communicate with her audience.

This novella is full of twists that I never saw coming. I was so intrigued by all of the unanswered questions in the beginning of it that I simultaneously wished it would never end and couldn’t wait to read more. If this is any indication of Ms. Govaere’s storytelling abilities, I look forward to seeing what she comes up with next.

Bootleg Cove is home to nearly as many secrets as it is to human occupants. For this reason it’s a great choice for anyone in the mood for something eerie that requires a little effort to untangle.

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