“Failed academic Frank Nichols and his not-quite 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 ways of their new neighbors seem to be everything they wanted. But there is an unspoken dread that the townsfolk have had 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 Nichol’s homecoming…”
Let me start by saying this is not your typical horror or even paranormal novel. Yes, there is plenty of both in the pages of this debut novel, but it is much, much more. The story takes place seventeen years after the end of World War I, and Frank, who has PTSD and still bears the scars and injuries of his time in the trenches, has fallen in love with Eudora who unfortunately is married to a highly respected professor. After deciding they can’t live without one another, Eudora’s husband discovers the truth and divorces her. He also makes sure that Frank will have no hope of ever teaching at any college ever again. After receiving a house in Whitbrow as part of an inheritance from a grandmother he never knew, the couple seize the opportunity to start anew and move in so Frank can start his book. It is soon clear though that there is something not quite right about this town, and Frank’s family is mixed in with it. It’s a bit difficult to describe the way I felt reading this book. I can only liken it to slowly sipping a favorite wine while curled up under a cozy blanket on a stormy day. Christopher Buehlman is an award winning poet and it shows in the languid and lyrical way the plot unfolds without moving so slowly that you find yourself nodding off. His characters are mutifaceted, and many are ones that you both admire, yet dislike at the same time. By the end of the book you feel as though you’ve actually met them. While the first half of the book is about building up suspense, you don’t actually see what the actual horror is until the second half. It’s also a great historical novel and really gives you a window into what 1935 was like, especially down South. I think if I was going to compare this to any other book it would be to Thomas Tryon’s Harvest Home. It has that same sultry prose. For those readers who tend to shy away from horror, or paranormal stories, please don’t let that stop you from trying this book. I think you’ll be happy you did.
Kim is the Assistant Head of Children’s Services
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