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review 2018-11-15 17:58
"The Elementals" by Michael McDowell
The Elementals - Michael Rowe,Michael McDowell

If you're looking for a deeply atmospheric, well-written and perfectly narrated novel to fill you with an inexorable dread, "The Elementals" is the book for you.

 

"The Elementals" has a remarkably powerful, cliché-free start, that embeds your imagination in the South like a throwing knife splitting a rotting log. What better way to start than with a funeral that goes from dire and depressing to deeply disturbing in a few pages.

 

I'd never read Michael McDowell before but I wasn't surprised to learn later that he was an excellent screenwriter.  The style of"The Elementals" is cinematic in a lots-of-close-ups, see-the-motes-in-the-sunlit-air lighting and strange but intimate camera angles kind of way.

 

The characters, especially Luker and his preciously independent daughter India are engaging and believable. Despite being unconventional people (Luker came from around hear but he raised his daughter in New York City so you can't exactly expect them to be normal, can you?) become the anchor points for sanity in a world that is sliding towards the lethally strange with the slow grace of an unmoored house sliding of a cliff into the sea.

 

The heat becomes almost a character in the story in its own right. India discovers for the first time the heat and humidity induced languor of the South that bends time and alter perceptions. Luker explains to her that this hot humid coastal resort of Beldame is:

"...a low energy place. The kind of place where you can only get one or two things done in a day and one of those is getting out of bed."

 

Not surprisingly, the horror in this book is of the slow but deeply disturbing kind. It seemed to me that the dread in this book had a pulse: slow and strong, like an ambush predator waiting on a branch.

 

Having this atmospheric tale delivered to my ear in R.C. Bray's gravelly but insistent voice was a remarkable reading experience.

 

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text 2018-10-25 17:03
Audible Halloween $6.95 Sale!
Carrion Comfort - Dan Simmons
The Collector - John Fowles
Joplin's Ghost - Tananarive Due
Secondhand Spirits - Juliet Blackwell
Thornwood House - Anna Romer
The Lottery and Other Stories - Shirley Jackson
FantasticLand - Mike Bockoven
Hell House - Richard Matheson
They Thirst - Robert R. McCammon
Cold Moon Over Babylon - Michael McDowell

Oh boy, I took in a huge book haul. Just when I'm fed up on horror and mystery and ready for nothing but non-fantastical fiction for a while. But oh, well, these will keep until I'm ready for chills and thrills again. 

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text 2018-10-11 23:16
Reading progress update: I've read 37%.
The Elementals - Michael Rowe,Michael McDowell

This quote resonates with how I've felt on a number of days recently. Luker describes the punishingly hot coastal resort by saying something like:

 

"This is a low energy place. The kind of place where you can only get one or two things done in a day and one of those is getting out of bed."

 

 

 

 

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text 2018-10-11 11:56
Reading progress update: I've read 17%. I was told this would be good...
The Elementals - Michael Rowe,Michael McDowell

...but I didn't think it would be so original.

 

"The Elementals" has a remarkably powerful, cliché-free start. It embeds your imagination in the South like a throwing knife splitting a rotting log.

 

The style is cinematic in a lots-of-close-ups, see-the-motes-in-the-sunlit-air lighting and strange but intimate camera angles kind of way.

 

The characters, especially Luker and India are engaging and all of it delivered to my ear in R.C. Bray's gravelly but insistent voice.

 

This is going to be good.

 

I'm reading it for the Southern Gothic square for Halloween Bingo.

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review 2018-09-18 02:52
The Elementals ★★★★★
The Elementals - Michael Rowe,Michael McDowell

They don’t get much better than this. It’s a wonderfully slow burn of a story that builds up to a gross-out creepfest. The characters were fun, some people get what they deserve (yay!), some wholly undeserving people get it (oh no!), and the scary stuff is left satisfyingly under-explained for a lingering aftertaste of mystery (ahhhh).

 

Audiobook, via Audible. I have mixed feelings on the performance by RC Bray. I liked his voices and infection, and his Southern accents were very plausible. But at times he was a little too deadpan, which flattened the story a bit. I read this for the 2018 Halloween Bingo square Southern Gothic : mystery, supernatural, suspense or horror set in the Southern part of the United States. This horror story is set in Alabama.

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