Advance Praise

“Part romance, part mystery, The Marsh Queen unwinds its entangled story lines with measured grace. Virginia Hartman shares with her bird artist narrator a keen eye and a precise touch, as well as a wry understanding of the way the natural world comforts and sustains. This is a marvelous debut, witty and wise.”
—Alice McDermott

“Steeped in the lush rhythms and murky shadows of the Florida Wetlands, Virginia Hartman’s The Marsh Queen is at once a gripping mystery, a devastating family drama, a romance, and a tribute to the natural world. Loni Murrow is a character who will stay with me for a long time. An astonishing debut.”
—Lara Prescott, author of The Secrets We Kept

“A unique blend of literature and mystery, with deft evocations of Florida’s flora and sometimes malignant fauna, The Marsh Queen finds a compelling Southern-noir niche all its own and marks Virginia Hartman as a writer to watch.”
—Louis Bayard, author of Courting Mr. Lincoln, Lucky Strikes, and The Pale Blue Eye

“Harrowing…. In The Marsh Queen there are stories within stories, there are stunning family secrets, there’s an almost gothic séance atmosphere—all beautifully orchestrated. But at heart this novel is a kind of mythic journey; a daughter’s search for truth, love, and redemption.”
—Howard Norman, author of Next Life Might Be Kinder and The Bird Artist

“The setting is distinctive, Loni is like a girl-detective grown up, and it crackles with trouble and action.”
—Ellen Prentiss Campbell, author of Frieda’s Song

“Subtle and complex, The Marsh Queen navigates the currents and backwaters of family relationships, the Florida swamplands, and a mysterious death. Like Barbara Kingsolver, Hartman delves into the natural world to explore connections between her characters. Fans of Delia Owens and Lauren Groff will find this a wonderful and absorbing read.”
—Suzanne Feldman, author of Sisters of the Great War and Absalom’s Daughters

“Hartman’s first novel is interwoven with strong natural history themes, evoking the works of Barbara Kingsolver.”        —Library Journal

“Hartman convincingly portrays the…marshes, creating an atmosphere of serene beauty but also one full of surprises and ultimately danger . . . [Her] love of this landscape, full of unexpected wonders, is
inherent in her writing.”                  —New York Journal of Books

“Hartman debuts with a well-crafted and fast-paced family drama… Hartman’s depiction of the natural setting show her to be a talented writer, as do the well-executed takes on museum work, botany, and ornithology. Readers will hope to see Loni back for more.”                                                                                                     —Publishers Weekly

“With its atmospheric swampland setting, Hartman’s debut brings to mind Delia Owens’ blockbuster Where the Crawdads Sing (2018), while the mystery itself is on par with Stacy Willingham’s A Flicker in the Dark (2022) . . . [T]he fast pace and short chapters keep the story moving for an enjoyable ride.”                                             —Booklist

“The novel’s framing details of Florida marshland, ornithology, museum work and fine art are expertly and beautifully drawn. The Marsh Queen is unwavering in its lush, finely detailed, appreciative portrayal of a distinctive natural setting, and ends on a redemptive, even inspirational note.”                                                                 —Shelf Awareness

“The book’s lyrical evocations of natural Florida, beautiful but perilous, ring true, as does it depiction of the entanglements of small-town life. Family dynamics are a strong point, and the author builds suspense skillfully as Loni unearths connections between past and present that could be lethal. This debut novel, set in rural Florida, deftly combines family drama and tense thriller.”                         —Kirkus Reviews