Home Arts Book Review: Cynthia J. Bogard’s ‘Beach of the Dead’ 

Book Review: Cynthia J. Bogard’s ‘Beach of the Dead’ 

Those who have been waiting for the sequel to “A History of Silence” will not be disappointed. Book Two of Montpelier author Cynthia J. Bogard’s Heartland Trilogy will officially be on bookstore shelves beginning Feb. 15. 

“Beach of the Dead” (Atmosphere Press, 2024) takes us traveling with Jane Meyer, known to readers of Book One as the shy graduate student from Iowa who committed an uncharacteristic act of violence. On the lam, Jane finds her way to a little piece of paradise on the coast of Mexico, where she assumes a new identity as Ana Jiménez. Although she knows this idyll can’t last forever, she uses the time and space to soul-search, to risk death, to make friends, and to fall in love for the first time. This book is far from just a beach romance, however. Bogard creates opportunities for her characters and her readers to reflect on some big questions.

Is murder in self-defense forgivable? Justifiable? What does justice look like in such a case? What is our collective responsibility toward the “unspoiled” Edens left in this world? Toward the indigenous people and other creatures who live there? How do we heal from trauma? Is it ever OK to live a lie? How can we be safe in a world that tries to tell us who we’re allowed to love?

To keep these big issues from weighing the novel down, Bogard treats us to lyrical descriptions of tropical forests both on land and underwater, as well as heart-opening scenes of kindness, warmth, and generosity. The book is a gift for our senses as well as a challenge for our ethics. Above all, it’s an absorbing read. And if you missed “A History of Silence,” fear not. “Beach of the Dead” stands well on its own, with just enough background woven into the narrative. 

The new book is a pre-release finalist in women’s fiction from the American Writing Awards. It is available at Bear Pond Books and other independent bookstores, or you can order it in paperback or Kindle format from Amazon. Watch for the audiobook later in 2024.