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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 2018-10-11 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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review 2018-09-09 00:36
The Elementals by Michael McDowell
The Elementals - Michael McDowell,R.C. Bray

 

I read this one for the Southern Gothic square.

 

 

The story begins with a funeral and an unusual tradition. Afterward, the Savage & McCray families escape to Beldame where there are 3 identical Victorian houses and nothing else. One house for each family and the third house which is being devoured by the sand.

 

I love the way the author introduces the characters and gradually gets you invested in them. He brings you into their world and the little quirks in their relationships. Then the supernatural gradually creeps up on you and bam!

 

I liked that the strongest characters were the oldest (the black maid/good witch) and the youngest (13-year-old girl skeptic) and the relationship that developed between them. The atmosphere is so descriptive that I felt like I was on the beach with them.

 

Great choice for Southern Gothic horror. Thanks to all of you who read this for previous Halloween Bingos and brought it to my attention with your amazing reviews.

 

 

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