An isolated stretch of coastal Virginia provides the eerie backdrop for a series of interconnecting tales of entrapment and escape.
Debut author Taylor focuses both a microscope and a telescope on a remote area of Eastern Virginia and its longtime residents in this novel made up of an array of linked stories. Set—primarily—on “The Shore,” a string of islands in the Chesapeake Bay that includes Assateague and the legendary Chincoteague, Taylor’s tales relate the lives of several of the area’s denizens over a two-and-a-half century span. Reaching into a dystopic future from a rural but far-from-idyllic past, Taylor weaves together accounts of misogyny, patricide, other garden-variety murders, and racism. The resulting collage of stories contains shifting narrators and perspectives as well as hints of family mystery. Few of the assembled tales lack a reference to pharmaceuticals of one sort or another, ranging from Native American plant lore to post-plague survival and the customs of the methamphetamine trade. Permeating each part of the work is a deep-rooted sense of place, from the endless marshes to the stink of the poultry farms. When one disaffected woman briefly escapes (with a drug-dealing boyfriend) to a farmhouse in the Blue Ridge Mountains, she discovers an antique bird cage in the attic—and it's hard not to think the residents of The Shore aren’t trapped in a much bigger, creepier bird cage.
The closed ecosystem of The Shore provides Taylor with an ideal setting for illuminating the course of Life over Time.