Gothic literature. This edition of McDowell's masterpiece of terror features a new introduction by award-winning horror author Michael Rowe. Seven other horror classics by Michael McDowell are available from Valancourt Books.
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READ MY BOOK REVIEW
Release Date: June 10th 2014 by Valancourt Books (originally published in 1981)
Actual Rating: 3.5 stars
For the most part, I really enjoyed reading this book. It's creepy, has a dark and foreboding atmosphere, and really encompasses the Southern Gothic horror genre. However, for a book that's slightly over 200 pages it took me an awful long time to read it. I guess it's because the book is very slow burn. Things don't just pop out at you and then race you to the finish line. Rather, things slowly make an appearance, creep you out for a minute, and then quickly disappear. Michael McDowell certainly knows how to put ideas and images in readers minds that will haunt them, but he doesn't give enough information about these things to leave a long lasting impression. I also think the plot had a few holes in it- some things were answered, but many unanswered. You can read my spoiler to see what I mean:
For example, we are told that there are elemental in the third house of the story and they aren't tangible things that one can touch and kill. Rather they are like sand in the wind and you never really know what form they will take. That's something that IS answered for us. Now when you think about the whole point of the story you are left wondering WHERE these things came from and WHY are they haunting Beldame. I can personally understand that the mysteriousness of this is what adds to the creepiness of the story, yet I PREFER to know the "whats" "whens" "whys" and "hows" to find any believe ability in the story.
Now let's talk about the books atmosphere. McDowell really slayed this aspect of the book. It takes place in a vacation spot on the Alabama Cost that is essentially cut off from society. There is a river that ebs and flows with the tide and traps everyone within the space when the tide is high. This is something that may panic people (I for one would NEVER want to be trapped like this) but they seem to enjoy it. Sort of like Beldame has magical powers over the minds of the people who visit there. I did find myself wondering WHY these people were okay with being so cut off from society, but then again, it leads to the question- WHY are they even visiting if there is something clearly so evil in the vicinity? Makes me wonder... In any event, the setting adds to the atmosphere and while the story was slower than I like, it really made a difference in my enjoyment.
All in all, I love how Valancourt books is bringing back novels from the 70's and 80's and I look forward to picking through many more of them! I am a huge fan of vintage horror novels and look forward to reading many many more!
You can find all the latest book reviews I have posted on the blog! I read various genres depending on my mood so there is a little something for any reader. xox Elle xox