The Elementals

by Michael McDowell

In the waves one could hear anything: the siren’s call or the scraping tread of the dead on the sand.

Luker and his 13-year-old daughter India are called away from New York to Luker’s home town in Alabama for a funeral. The family decides to spend some time in the secluded beach houses at Beldame, where one of the three houses on the peninsula has been all but completely claimed by a sand dune.

As the family spends the better part of a summer in the sweltering heat and isolation of Baldame, India begins looking into the third house and finds the family has a dubious history on the little island, complete with multiple tragedies, and all of their lives are in danger.

The book has that decidedly hometown, homestyle, home-fried homeliness to it that McDowell would go on to perfect in the incredible 6-book Blackwater series. Even as just a single novel, The Elementals reads like a family saga, a unique trait that comes across as an accomplishment.

The family drama is a serious player in the story, horror or not, and when you walk away from this one, same as Blackwater, it’s the family moments that stick with you. Yes, it’s horror and there’s a body count, but without the unguarded moments between father and daughter, mother and son, the story wouldn’t have nearly the impact it does.

The Elementals is an excellent book, displaying the talent and ability of the author to capture small, intimate family snapshots and weave them into a compelling story alongside horrific, supernatural elements. And if this is your thing, don’t miss McDowell’s Blackwater.

“If anything happens,” Odessa said in a low voice, “eat my eyes . . .”

4 stars

 

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