Bohjalian’s (Secrets of Eden, 2010, etc.) latest effort finds its dark magick in a coven of herbalists, ghosts from an air crash and the troubled history of a derelict Victorian house.
Chip Linton was an experienced pilot for a regional airline, but the aircraft he was flying one sunny August day hit a flock of geese upon takeoff. Chip’s chance to duplicate the heroic flying skills of Sully Sullenberger and the miracle landing on the Hudson River are lost to a rogue wave in the middle of Lake Champlain. Thirty-nine people died during the emergency landing. Until that day, Chip’s life had been the American dream: a profession he loved; a beautiful wife with a successful law practice; adored 10-year-old twin daughters. Now Chip fights posttraumatic stress and has crashed into clinical depression. Emily Linton decides the family needs a new start. She persuades Chip to move to the White Mountains of New Hampshire where she’s found a gingerbread-trimmed house crying for restoration. Emily joins a local law firm. The twins, Hallie and Garnet, try to fit in at school. And Chip goes to work remodeling the house, right down to obsessing over a door in the basement sealed by 39 carriage bolts. Chip, haunted by victims of the crash, wonders if the bolts are macabre symbols for the 39 dead. Like the Lintons, numerous houses around the small town have greenhouses, each owned and lovingly maintained by one of the herbalists. And the herbalists are especially interested in the Lintons’ twin daughters. The narrative develops an aura of malevolence early on, but perhaps too slowly for some horror fans. Many characters, especially all but one of the herbalists, seem one-dimensional. Some plot points are unresolved or take odd turns, perhaps in anticipation of a sequel. Chip’s story is the most compelling. It's presented in the second person and closely parallels the fugue state that sometimes haunts those with depression.
A practical magick horror story with a not-entirely-satisfying resolution.