Sunday, November 21, 2010

Book Review: The Cypress House by Michael Kortya

Title: The Cypress House
Author: Michael Koryta
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Release Date: 01/24/2011
ISBN: 0316053724

After my first foray into Koryta's work via So Cold the River, I was somewhat curious to see what his next book would be like. My experience with SCTR was mostly a good one, although I felt the end was a little anti-climatic. Would this book be better? Would the ending have more zing? Yes it is and yes, it did.

Arlen Wagner has seen it in men before--a trace of smoke in their eyes that promises imminent death. He is never wrong.

When Arlen awakens on a train one hot Florida night and sees death's telltale sign in the eyes of his fellow passengers, he tries to warn them. Only 19-year-old Paul Brickhill believes him, and the two abandon the train, hoping to escape certain death. They continue south, but soon are stranded at the Cypress House--an isolated Gulf Coast boarding house run by the beautiful Rebecca Cady--directly in the path of an approaching hurricane.

The storm isn't the only approaching danger, though. A much deadlier force controls the county and everyone living in it, and Arlen wants out--fast. But Paul refuses to abandon Rebecca to face the threats alone, even though Arlen's eerie gift warns that if they stay too long they may never leave.

If you loved the first book, you're going to really enjoy Kortya's next offering. The spookiness and supernatural is dialed back a few notches in order to showcase humanity's ability for cruelty & evil, but it'll still keep you thumbing through the pages way past midnight. These characters aren't perfect, but you'll find yourself wondering what exactly will happen to them.

The only problem with this book is that for broad stretches, nothing happens. We see Arlen & Paul working on the house or talking to Rebecca about ominous things that might happen. At times this works wonderfully to heighten the tension, but at times I couldn't help but wish that the plot would have moved just a teensy bit faster.

This is still well worth reading, but if you aren't into the books that build suspense up slowly you'll probably be disappointed with this read. To the rest I heartily endorse this read- at times Koryta reminds me a little of Shirley Jackson's Haunting of Hill House.

(ARC provided by NetGalley)

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