Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Neighbors Aren't So Friendly In This Marvelous Debut Horror Novel

Those Across The River

Failed academic Frank Nichols and his wife, Eudora, have arrived in the sleepy Georgia town of Whitbrow, where Frank hopes to write a history of his family's old estate-the Savoyard Plantation- and the horrors that occurred there. At first, the quaint, rural ways of their new neighbors seem to be everything they wanted. But there is an unspoken dread that the townsfolk have lived with for generations. A presence that demands sacrifice.

It comes from the shadowy woods across the river, where the ruins of Savoyard still stand. Where a longstanding debt of blood has never been forgotten.

A debt that has been waiting patiently for Frank Nichols's homecoming...

Jackie says:
"This book is deeply creepy, and I only made it more so by reading it on a weekend as the moon was coming full.  And the moon definitely plays a role in this story, set in the rural south in 1936.  Frank and Eudora, posing as man and wife though they hadn't quite made it official yet, have come to live in the house bequeathed to him by his aunt.  It came with a curse, interestingly enough, and a dire warning from his aunt to just sell the house and not come to see it ever.  It seemed to stem from a great grandfather who had been a cruel slave master who refused to free his slaves after the State's War, so they ended up rising and killing him. The lawyers shuffled this off as an old lady's dying hysteria, though no one could deny that nasty piece of history. But the couple really needed a fresh start, having scandalized the northern world of academia by their relationship (she had been a prominent professor's wife at the same institution that Frank had been teaching).

At first things were fine.  The neighbors seemed decent, the town was sleepy but interesting, and the couple began to settle down.  For the first month,until the social, and the pigs.

Every month there was a ceremonial offering of a boar and a sow, taken over my ferry to the woods on the other side of the river--an covenant that had been kept for many years.  But times were very hard, and the town decides to stop giving up the pigs.  And the killing started.  There was evil across the river and it was coming for the town, and Frank and Dora found themselves bound to it's center with no way out.

This is a brilliantly written first novel that paints a vivid  and literate picture of the people, the town, and the horror.  There are graphic parts, but they are a deeply woven part of the plot, not gratuitous.  This novel is extremely well crafted, and scary as all hell.  Read it under a bright light in a warm and well secured house."

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