After a bizarre and disturbing incident at the funeral of matriarch Marian Savage, the McCray and Savage families look forward to a restful and relaxing summer at Beldame, on Alabama's Gulf Coast, where three Victorian houses loom over the shimmering beach. Two of the houses are habitable, while the third is slowly and mysteriously being buried beneath an enormous dune of blindingly white sand. But though long uninhabited, the third house is not empty. Inside, something deadly lies in wait. Something that has terrified Dauphin Savage and Luker McCray since they were boys and which still haunts their nightmares. Something horrific that may be responsible for several terrible and unexplained deaths years earlier - and is now ready to kill again....
A haunted house story unlike any other, Michael McDowell's The Elementals (1981) was one of the finest novels to come out of the horror publishing explosion of the 1970s and '80s. Though best known for his screenplays for Tim Burton's Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas, McDowell is now being rediscovered as one of the best modern horror writers and a master of Southern Gothic literature. This edition of McDowell's masterpiece of terror features a new introduction by award-winning horror author Michael Rowe. McDowell's first novel, the grisly and darkly comic The Amulet (1979), is also available from Valancourt Books.
©1981 Michael McDowell (P)2016 Valancourt Books, LLC
Just a small warning: there is a prologue in the original novel missing in this supposed unabridged audio version, which - in my opinion - is essential to the story.
Nevertheless, this is without a doubt one of the finest novels of the supernatural I have ever read. I recommend this highly. I read my own somewhat tattered paperback original every year, and will likely continue to do so.
I never write reviews, but this book was so worth it. As as bonafide horror enthusiast, I have listened to my share of duds. This was not one of them. I was actually scared. Really. The writing was superb and the description of the Alabama gulf coast gave this story it's eerie air. Go ahead and use the credit. You won't be disappointed.
Looking for the next best horror, ghost, paranormal, apocalyptic book out there. Especially if it has a full cast.
This is the second novel by Michael McDowell which I've had the pleasure to experience. The first, Cold Moon Over Babylon, was just as good if not better. Both novels have exactly what I look for when I'm in the mood to escape reality - dark atmospheres, mystery with a hint of supernatural and characters so real they might as well be sitting beside you. Combine that with fluent and deeply descriptive prose and you have these two 5 star novels. Oddly enough, neither Scott Brick nor R.C. Bray have ever been on my list of likeable narrators. In the past I have found the gruffness of their voices too distracting, however, the ease at which they both were able to perform several characters with different voice inflections definitely gave me a new appreciation of their talent.
I don't want to go into the details of the story, but I don't really even need to. If you give this a chance, I promise within the first chapter you will be so hooked by the overall performance you won't care what its about, you'll listen just for the sheer pleasure of it.
Its a true shame that Mr. McDowell will never be writing another novel and that there aren't more of his other works available in audio format.
I had not experienced the horror writing of Michael McDowell, and readily admit I didn't recognize him by name. But that was yesterday.
"The Elementals" is among the finest horror novels I have ever read. Although written decades ago, this story can compete with today's bestsellers in the same genre.
McDowell captivates by opening with several generations of a southern family sitting in their living room and are told a horrific story regarding their ancestors. I will never, ever, forget it. I felt like McDowell had picked me up and dropped me onto their sofa.
There is a father/daughter relationship that brings witty humor into the story. Both of these characters are fleshed out and consistently captivating.
This book is raw, it's original, and it is frightening to the core. You would shelve this author between Stephen King and Clive Barker in the library of your mind.
Perfect pacing. Oozingly ominous and terrifying.
I'm so happy I found it. Up there with Ghost Story for me.
I would recommend this listen to anyone who loves a good horror story with a hefty dose of southern gothic. It's not exactly a ghost story, but it's also not a ghost story and has several flourishes of grotesquery that I'm sure will stick with me for a long time.
My favorite characters in the book are Odessa Red, the long-employed black servant who understands the workings of the "elementals" of the story and India, the thirteen-year-old girl who is visiting her wealthy families ancient beach home property for the first time.
The suffocating heat and sugar-white sand of the Gulf Coast make for a compelling setting with very striking imagery, especially when the sand begins to seep into one of the houses in an unstoppable and unnatural invasion of grit.
I would have loved to have listened to the whole book in one sitting, the story and setting being very compelling.
I should disclose that I won a free copy of this audiobook in a drawing from Valencourt Books, but as a fan of Michael McDowel's other books, this being one of the few I haven't read, I would have purchased a copy and listened anyway.
Slow Start, worth the wait. Absolutely Amazing don't pass this one up. Stephen King called McDowell the best paperback writer for a reason.
Stephen King fans don't pass this one up! narrator is amazing, story absolutely engrossing. So glad I took a chance on it.
As a longtime fan of Michael McDowell, I was thrilled when Valancourt Books began reprinting his largely forgotten novels from the 80s. The Elementals is their first audiobook to be released of his work.
McDowell's knack for writing believable Southern dialog is amazing. His dark sense of humor runs throughout the Elementals.
And when it comes to pure horror, no one can top McDowell's concise yet visually descriptive writing. He was simply one of the best ever published in the horror genre.
R. C. Bray does a wonderful job narrating McDowell's words, and bringing the character's to life.
I highly recommend The Elementals, whether you choose the printed version or the excellent audio book.
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