Review Excerpts

San Francisco Chronicle – August 22, 2004
“Ambitious… often riveting and always intelligently nuanced environmental tale… Rash is a thoughtful novelist exploring serious concerns about the environment, the power of the media and the limitations of law when it comes to anticipating and settling complex problems. The fictional exploration of these significant yet commonplace issues that small and large communities grapple with every day are likely to resonate far more with readers than another whiny yarn about the predictably dysfunctional comings and goings of the wealthy and the Botoxed.”
— Sara Peyton

Atlanta Journal Constitution – August 12, 2004
“Rash’s prose… has a peculiar headlong drive akin to that of hard-boiled detective novels – the best sort. Imagine a philosophical eco-thriller told by a distaff version of Philip Marlowe or Lew Archer. The reader comes to care intensely about Maggie, her unfolding relationship with Hemphill, her struggle to forgive her daddy and her painful ambivalence about her back-creek heritage…[A] compelling ride: a jolting white-water jaunt vs. a scuba-diving survey of an artificial lake. In either case, Rash legitimately qualifies as a writer of the first water.”
— Michael Bishop

Entertainment Weekly – August 6, 2004
“After 12-year-old Ruth Kowalsky accidentally drowns in South Carolina’s Tamaasse River, she becomes the epicenter of a small town power struggle in Rash’s captivating second novel… [Rash’s] his clear, concise prose and regional voice add an authentic veneer to this rich tableau of Southern life.”
— Michelle Kung

Southern Living – August 2004
“A hydraulic– water moving in a circular vortex-traps the body of a drowned girl behind Wolf Cliff Falls on South Carolina’s Tamassee River. When local drivers fail, the grieving parents bring in the inventor of a temporary dam who claims he can retrieve the remains. This sparks protests from environmentalist Luke Miller… Ron Rash beautifully captures the resulting emotions, which surge as powerfully as the rivers that wrought them.”
— Nancy Dorman-Hickson

Wall Street Journal – July 30, 2004
“When a young girl drowns in South Carolina’s Tamassee River and her body lodges under a stone shelf that cannot be reached unless the river is dammed, a culture war breaks out… With Saints at the River, Ron Rash has done something wonderfully odd: He has written a compelling novel that may be described as an eco-thriller of ideas… Soon the controversy interests the national press, occasioning all the distortions one might imagine. Mr. Rash tells his story with subtlety and with the best kind of empathy — one that is not limited to a single point of view.”
— Scott Morris

Publishers Weekly – July 12, 2004
“Rash pens his novel in clear, unadorned prose appropriate to its ripped-from-the-headlines premise… But the book is rich with nuance, mostly because Rash selects Maggie Glenn as his first-person narrator. A Tamassee native who now works as a news photographer in the state capital, Columbia, Maggie has deep ties to the town, but she’s detached from the main fray… Rash [creates] detailed, highly particular characters… Rash clearly knows the people and places he writes about, and that authenticity pays off in a conclusion that packs an unexpected and powerful punch.”

Library Journal – June 1, 2004
“A Minnesotan girl vacationing in South Carolina with her parents accidentally drowns in the Tamassee River, and her parents want to recover her body which is trapped in an underwater gorge. Against this backdrop, former Tamassee resident Maggie Glenn, a staff photographer for a state newspaper, is sent to cover the story… From the first page to the last, the author’s down-to-earth characters and rich descriptions of the backwoods carry readers through this emotionally charged story. Recommended for all collections.”
–David A. Berona

Kirkus Review (Starred Review) – March 15, 2004
“A gripping environmental drama pits the rescue of a drowned girl against the integrity of a river… Story writer and second novelist, Rash sets up a finely balanced confrontation between Luke Miller, fearless and incorruptible champion of the river (though no saint), and Ruth’s grieving parents, who want to give her a proper burial. Spare, resonant, unputdownable.”