TOMAHAWK CREEK

Years after their mother died and their father abandoned them, sisters Lily and Hyacinth Tellez find themselves at the center of another family scandal at their aging—and possibly cursed—estate on Tomahawk Creek.

Built on the battleground of dueling Native American tribes, Holloway Manor is prime real estate for a haunting. Locals say the tomahawk-shaped creek that surrounds the house once ran red with blood, leaving a curse on the land. Matriarch Celeste Ducette can barely hide her contempt for her granddaughters, who remain on the estate while a local developer pressures them to sell the property. As the Ducette family history unfolds in a series of flashbacks, the sisters find more skeletons in the closet than ghosts in the attic. The Native Americans seem only tangentially related to the supernatural forces at work, relayed in gossip that adds little suspense to the story, save for Lily’s heightened anxiety over an unexplained noise heard indoors at an afternoon historical society function. Meanwhile, a search through the family heirlooms reveals far more interesting secrets about Lily and Hyacinth’s parents, the privileged Evangeline Ducette and her father’s day laborer, Sam Tellez, who ran off together against their parents’ wishes after a brief but steamy courtship. The Ducette family’s propensity for malice, conveyed through acid dialogue and knee-jerk reactions, propels the narrative forward, each chapter more shocking than the last, to the mysterious, heart-wrenching tragedy that left the sisters orphans and Celeste a widow. The family members aren’t as genteel as they seem, least of all Lily and Hyacinth. The girls’ alternately sweet and sinister dispositions leave readers wondering if their ancient curse might just be genetic. Their attempts at lifting the alleged family curse go awry, culminating in a deliciously gruesome scramble to hide the evidence from the prying eyes of their community. After an uneven build-up, the curse of Tomahawk Creek returns full-force in an explosive, unpredictable ending. Ghost hunters will find few spooks on Tomahawk Creek, but inside the iron gates of Holloway Manor, the fiery Tellez sisters uncover a family intrigue that makes for a fast-paced, enjoyable read.

 

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2011

ISBN: 978-1463630010

Page Count: 305

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 3, 2011

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An eerie and affecting satire of the detective novel.

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DEATH IN HER HANDS

A note suggesting a woman has been killed in the woods captures the imagination of an elderly woman, with alarming intensity.

Vesta, the extremely unreliable narrator of Moshfegh’s fourth novel (My Year of Rest and Relaxation, 2018, etc.), is a 72-year-old widow who’s recently purchased a new home, a cabin on a former Girl Scout camp. Walking her dog through the nearby woods, she sees a note lying on the ground which says that a woman named Magda has been killed "and here is her dead body," but there's no body there or any sign of violence. Call the police? Too easy: Instead, Vesta allows herself to be consumed with imagining what Magda might have been like and the circumstances surrounding her murder. Whatever the opposite of Occam’s razor is, Vesta’s detective work is it: After some web searching on how mystery writers do their work, she surmises that Magda was a Belarussian teen sent to the United States to work at a fast-food restaurant, staying in the basement of a woman whose son, Blake, committed the murder. Moshfegh on occasion plays up the comedy of Vesta’s upside-down thinking: “A good detective presumes more than she interrogates.” But Vesta slowly reveals herself as what we might now call a Moshfegh-ian lead: a woman driven to isolation and feeling disassociated from herself, looking for ways to cover up for a brokenness she's loath to confront. Over the course of the novel, Vesta’s projections about Magda's identity become increasingly potent and heartbreaking symbols of wounds from the narrator's childhood and marriage. The judgmental voice of her late husband, Walter, keeps rattling in her head, and she defiantly insists that “I didn’t want Walter in my mindspace anymore. I wanted to know things on my own.” You simultaneously worry about Vesta and root for her, and Moshfegh’s handling of her story is at once troubling and moving.

An eerie and affecting satire of the detective novel. (This book has been postponed; we'll update the publication date when it's available.)

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7935-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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King fans won’t be disappointed, though most will likely prefer the scarier likes of The Shining and It.

THE INSTITUTE

The master of modern horror returns with a loose-knit parapsychological thriller that touches on territory previously explored in Firestarter and Carrie.

Tim Jamieson is a man emphatically not in a hurry. As King’s (The Outsider, 2018, etc.) latest opens, he’s bargaining with a flight attendant to sell his seat on an overbooked run from Tampa to New York. His pockets full, he sticks out his thumb and winds up in the backwater South Carolina town of DuPray (should we hear echoes of “pray”? Or “depraved”?). Turns out he’s a decorated cop, good at his job and at reading others (“You ought to go see Doc Roper,” he tells a local. “There are pills that will brighten your attitude”). Shift the scene to Minneapolis, where young Luke Ellis, precociously brilliant, has been kidnapped by a crack extraction team, his parents brutally murdered so that it looks as if he did it. Luke is spirited off to Maine—this is King, so it’s got to be Maine—and a secret shadow-government lab where similarly conscripted paranormally blessed kids, psychokinetic and telepathic, are made to endure the Skinnerian pain-and-reward methods of the evil Mrs. Sigsby. How to bring the stories of Tim and Luke together? King has never minded detours into the unlikely, but for this one, disbelief must be extra-willingly suspended. In the end, their forces joined, the two and their redneck allies battle the sophisticated secret agents of The Institute in a bloodbath of flying bullets and beams of mental energy (“You’re in the south now, Annie had told these gunned-up interlopers. She had an idea they were about to find out just how true that was"). It’s not King at his best, but he plays on current themes of conspiracy theory, child abuse, the occult, and Deep State malevolence while getting in digs at the current occupant of the White House, to say nothing of shadowy evil masterminds with lisps.

King fans won’t be disappointed, though most will likely prefer the scarier likes of The Shining and It.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9821-1056-7

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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