Cover Image: Knife River

Knife River

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Member Reviews

Thank you NetGalley for the ARC. Knife River is the story of two sisters grappling with the discovery of the bones of their mother, who went missing 15 years ago. It's a slow burn that goes back and forth between the past and present day.

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Thank you NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group - Random House for the copy of Knife River by Justine Champine. The basic story was great and if you love descriptive writing you will love it. For me it was too much description, so I found myself skimming those long paragraphs, waiting for the story to resume. The characters were interesting, but none of them were particularly compelling. The story was excruciatingly slow to unwind, and the mystery of what happened to their mother was abandoned for a good part of the book. If you like books about relationships and growth read this book. If you’re looking for a fast-paced thriller, it might not be the book for you!

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I struggled to get into this book. The writing was good but there wasn’t enough dialogue and I didn’t feel any connection to the main characters. For me there wasn’t enough action and too much inner thought to move the story along. Even the twist at the end felt flat.
The 3 stars are for the quality of writing.
Thanks Netgalley for the ARC.

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This isn't my usual read but I loved it. I even participated in a discussion about it. It is a good examination of trauma. It is also very dark and gritty. Lovely.

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I love me a story like this! It kept me captivated from the first chapter. I just think a wide variety/range of people will really enjoy this! I recommend.

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Knife River by Justine Champine was a slow, slow burn. The book was engaging enough to keep my attention but it developed glacially which may represent how time was moving for the two main characters relative to learning the truth about the disappearance of their mother many years prior.

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group for the opportunity to read this ARC.

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Finished this book and was definitely riveted throughout the pages, but it was SO BLEAK. And while I understand that the events were forecasting the stagnant lives of the characters - and I acknowledge that the writing was great in making you feel bleak- it just wasn't a win for me. This wasn't a book a would recommend, and I was disappointed at the events that actually caused the mother's death.

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Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

An important thing for readers to know before going into this book is that this book is much more focused on the literary aspect than the thriller aspect. Adjusting expectations to that might help the overall reading experience.

The book examines how living through a mystery of this sort permanently affects all aspects of their lives, how it is constantly at the back of their psyches influencing every decision, and how the lack of closure may freeze lives at a certain moment. It's also a examination of love and how we don't even to truly see or understand every aspect of the people we love.

All of the above mentioned aspects as interesting and in the start of the book and the last 1/4th of the book, it delivers a slowly unfurling mystery along with thes aspects, providing a tense and claustrophobic, yet fascinating read.

However, the problem of the book lies in middle. For at least half of the book towards the middle, the st0ry movement grinds to a screeching halt and the development happens excruciatingly slowly. If often feels meandering and all of the tension dissappears until the last 1/4th. It doesn't help that the narration is lacking in clarity of what is happening in the present(2010) and what are recollections of Jess's memory. Truthfully, it was difficult for me to even maintain engagement through this section and I really had to make myself power through. I am glad I did as the last 1/4th is definitely well done once again, but it did not make for the best reading experience.

Overall though, Knife Reader still manages to make for a compelling read through its explorations, if not the most engaging. It's worth checking out as a deep dive into the psyche of the people left begind on am unresolved missing persons/murder case.

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I was expecting a much different book even after I started reading it but liked the one that I got. Early trauma and its effects on who we turn out to be. Relationships, both sisterly and romantic.

Thanks to Netgalley for the free copy in exchange for an honest review

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Two estranged sisters reunite in their small hometown after their long-missing mother’s bones are discovered. If you want fast-paced twists, skip this one. It’s a slow burn. But burn it does—smoke will get in your eyes. Fifteen years ago, when Jess was thirteen, her mom left for a walk and vanished. Jess’s fiercely smart big sister had to give up on her dreams of college to care for her sibling, until Jess skipped town and drifted. Now, as they wait for the cops to finally do something, the sisters are forced to get to know each other - and face their small conservative town's homophobic reality. While the mystery of who killed their mom smolders like toxic smoke in the background, this is ultimately an examination of the ripple effects of trauma. The writing is gorgeous and the characters so real I didn’t just get to know them but became them.

It’s only April but I’m calling KNIFE RIVER one of my favorite books of 2024. IT'S SO GOOD!

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Knife River tells the story of two sisters searching for closure 15 years after the sudden disappearance of their mother. Jess, the younger sister, left their tiny upstate New York town 10 years earlier but is called back by her older sister when their mother’s bones are discovered.
The book explores the relationship between the two sisters and how they were each profoundly and uniquely damaged by their mother’s death. There is not a tremendous amount of plot but this is a truly character driven story. A late plot reveal is very surprising but still rings true and is believable.
Knife River is a beautiful debut novel. I look forward to the next thing Justine Champine writes.
Thank you to The Dial Press and Netgalley for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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This was an interesting novel with well developed characters and a unique plot I enjoyed the writing style and the attention to detail but I found some parts to be slow paced.
Many thanks to Random House and to Netgalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.

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I am so thankful to The Dial Press, Justine Champine, and PRHAudio for the #Free Audiobook before this slow burn family drama hits shelves on May 28, 2024.

Knife River is a town that holds onto secrets that never stay hidden. Knife River is the home of two sisters who are still grieving the loss of their mother after she went missing fifteen years ago. When readers are introduced to the storyline, their mother’s remains are found and then from then on we are transported into a claustrophobic retelling of how Liz and Jess process their grief as they continue to look for answers into what happened to their mother and how they find themselves out of the hopeless rut they are rooted to.

I liked this one, but it was less thriller and more family drama with a taste of slow burn that I didn’t have a hankering for. If this one wasn’t told in such a discombobulated manner and was a bit faster paced, I envision myself liking it more, but this one just wasn’t for me.

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Our protagonist, Jess, tells us the story of her mother’s disappearance when she was a child as she’s taking us back to the sad little town she grew up in. We meet her sister Liz, who’s been frozen in time since the day her mother left. The home, the decor, the dishes, everything is exactly as it was when the sisters’ hearts were broken. They knew their mother loved them. She was beautiful, free spirited, and strong willed. And they know in their hearts that she’s dead.
They’re brought back together when their mother’s bones are found. It reignites the burning desire in Jess to understand who did this, who committed this heinous crime. Jess and Liz have such different personalities, though. They literally circle each other like prey. Liz wants to keep her head down. Jess wants to scream to the mountains. As these two coexist in their childhood home, so many burned bridges are rebuilt. Yes, a crime needs to be solved, but the story of Jess and Liz is told in bare bones, suffer through it, raw words. This is an excellent emotional read with depth and color.
Thanks so much to Random House Publishing Group, Dial Press, for an ARC in exchange for my honest review. The publishing date is May 28, 2024.

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Earlier this spring I was invited to read Justine Champine’s first novel, “Knife River” and participate in a Book Club Discussion with its publisher Dial Press. “Knife River,” is a mystery novel with a queer protagonist that unfolds as a slow burn, drenched in a deeply atmospheric setting. The consensus among early readers and the publisher was a mix of admiration for its strong narrative and poignant exploration of complex relationships, intertwined with doubt and the scars of memory.

Set in the rural landscape of western New York, the town of Knife River emerges as a character in its own right, casting a shadow over the lives of the protagonists, Liz and Jess. The sisters, each grappling with their version of their mother's legacy, weave a tapestry of doubt and intrigue that challenges not only the reader's perception but also their own recollections.

The storyline, centered on a cold case that refuses to thaw, mirrors the slow-paced life in Knife River, adding layers to the character study and the dynamics between the sisters. Jess, the younger sibling, carries the weight of guilt and a sense of displacement, while Liz immerses herself in the quest for closure, tethered to the past by fear and unresolved questions.

The book's strength lies in its ability to transport readers to a specific time and place, evoking a sense of nostalgia tinged with unease. The author's knack for creating a vivid, palpable atmosphere resonated with readers from different corners of the USA and Canada, sparking conversations about the universal theme of belonging and the haunting fear that lurks within us all.

While some readers expressed discomfort at certain points, particularly concerning the homophobia Jess faced when returning to her small town, others appreciated the nuanced portrayal of LGBTQ+ themes and the quest for a 'happy gay ending' amidst the somber backdrop of a cold case.

Overall, "Knife River" is more than a mystery novel; it's a journey into the intricacies of human relationships, the scars left by unresolved trauma, and the resilience required to confront one's past. Justine Champine's narrative prowess shines through, making this a recommended read for fans of atmospheric mysteries and character-driven stories that linger long after the final page.

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This book is a gripping tale about how grief affects many people in different ways. Sisters Jess and Liz are reunited years after their mother's disappearance in their hometown when their mother's remains are found. This book was such a page-turner! Very moving book. Thank you to NetGalley, Random House Publishing, and The Dial Press for a copy of this book for an honest review.

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Knife River is the name of a small town where the main characters, Jess and Liz, grew up. Their mother disappeared when they were young and now, years later, her bones have been found. Liz still lives in Knife River and Jess returns to stay with her while the police work on solving the mystery of who killed their mother. Jess and Liz become impatient and decide to work on solving things themselves.

The setting of Knife River lends to a feeling of tension and underlying fear as there are few people living there and he reader learns that it's difficult to know who to trust.

This is a difficult book to categorize, but I would say it would be best described as a combination of slow burn mystery and women's general fiction. The book is written with a kind of literary quality that makes the reader take their time to absorb the material. I enjoyed the quirkiness of the characters and how each sister handled the trauma so differently. This was not a fast read, but an enjoyable one.

Thank you to #NetGalley and #RandomHousePublishing for an eARC of #KnifeRiver by #JustineChampine in exchange for honest feedback.
-4 stars

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Knife River by Justine Champine is set up as a thriller/mystery, but I found it more of a coming-of-age story.

Natalie Fairchild left her house for a walk and never returned. Now, 15 years later, her remains have been found and her daughters must come together to find out what happened to their mother.

That, itself, would have been a fantastic story. However, Knife River is more about Jess coming into her sexuality and herself. The homophobia is rampant in Knife River and I feel like that set the atmosphere for the entire book. It was just.....dark and gritty.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read and review.

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This book sounded promising and had an interesting plot. However, as I began reading, the book was so dark and heavy and depressing. I didn't expect a book about a mother's disappearance and murder to be uplifting, but there are skillful ways to convey the seriousness without bringing the entire book down. This book is so much more than a murder mystery - it's a story of relationships - between a mother and daughter, between two sisters, and between two people in a relationship. Maybe because of the mother's disappearance, all of the relationships felt dark to me.

Not my cup of tea, unfortunately.

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I will say that I enjoyed the beginning and the end of this book, but I have to say that the middle parts just left me feeling lost. The timeline was disorganized, and the plot lines felt very disjointed. The pacing felt off to me, and I just couldn’t really connect with the characters. I’m sorry to say this one was just not for me. I’m glad I read it because the ending was well done.

My thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.

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