Those Across the River by Christopher Buehlman © 2011 Berkeley Publishing
Frank and Eudora Nichols move to backwoods, 1920s Whitbrow, Georgia, so Frank can write a book about his wicked plantation owner ancestor, Lucien Savoyard. Whitbrow has a crude tradition of putting chase to pigs in the woods across the river, a tradition which Frank and Eudora play a part in putting an end to. Then Whitbrow is terrorized by the folks living across the river.
The there to write a book premise was kind of cheeky, but Buehlman did a good job making the reader feel southern-fried small town life of the era. For half the book, I wasn’t sure what, if anything, was going on, though I enjoyed the Mayberry-esque vignettes. When things started happening, and I found out what the folks across the river really were, I was totally hooked. Let’s say it involves a popular monster concept only with interesting new tweaks and an excellent tie-in to the area’s local history.
River contained a few horror movie moments where people defy sanity with the places they choose to go and when they choose not to pull the trigger, but such moments weren’t too distracting. Frank and Eudora’s personal perils from the river folk were the most engrossing, and thankfully not neatly resolved.
Frank’s World War I flashbacks throughout seemed like a red herring until Buehlman brought them to relevance near the end. I was impressed how details in the early, seemingly-innocuous town vignettes proved important later. That’s good storytelling.
And it’s good book. Those Across the River is staying on my shelf. Read it!