Failed academic Frank Nichols and his wife, Eudora, have arrived in the sleepy Georgia town of Whitbrow, where Frank hopes to write a history of his family's old estate - the Savoyard Plantation - and the horrors that occurred there. At first, the quaint, rural ways of their new neighbors seem to be everything they wanted. But there is an unspoken dread that the townsfolk have lived with for generations. A presence that demands sacrifice. It comes from the shadowy woods across the river, where the ruins of Savoyard still stand. Where a longstanding debt of blood has never been forgotten. A debt that has been waiting patiently for Frank Nichols's homecoming...
©2011 Christopher Buehlman (P)2011 Penguin
Let's start with the plusses - this is a rip-snorting, fast-paced, carefully-crafted thriller in both horror and historical fiction categories. The story is literary, first rate and laid out just right. The narrator was very good, although he seemed to forget that his 3 protagonists were YANKEES in the south, and generally gave them heavy southern inflections as well, No big deal.
Now to the not-so-good bits. 39 minutes into the recording it seemed to skip, and while the book is labeled as 9hr6min in length, the download read out at 8hr25min. I contacted Audible and they said they found no problem, and sent me a fresh file, but the problem was the same.
I wound up purchasing the book on Kindle so I could make comparisons! The 39 min. skip turned out to be only a single word, and I resumed listening. But almost every chapter ends with one of these squeaky cuts, where a single word is cut off, and when the book resumes and you're in another chapter, it's very disconcerting. I THINK I heard the entire book, but I hope that Penguin Audio is more careful with its finished products in the future.
The quality of the recording really messes this up. Toward the end of chapters - over and over - (AND over!) the audio just SKIPS. There is no way to tell how many words or sentences or paragraphs might be missing. Otherwise an interesting and exciting story and great narrator.
Lawyer. Musician. Geek.
I *think* this book was well written? I'm just not sure it was because of all the sound jumps... At least 15 times in the first half of the book there were major gaps in the audio. I would be listening along and suddenly it would be as if I had hit the button to the next chapter. This would, in turn, prompt me to scroll back to make sure I hadn't done that or spaced out. I finally gave up about 2/3 of the way through.
I'm not going to comment on the strength of the story or anything else really, because poor sound quality makes any appraisal unfair. It's being returned.
This audibook was not of the quality I have come to expect from Audible. There were frequent hiccups - like a CD skipping. The story got started slowly, but by the time I got to the second half of the book, I was glad I stuck with it.
Buehlman's prose is a pleasure to listen to. His descriptive writing is rich and takes you there. His characters are complex and human and deeply engaging. Even his minor characters are fresh and vivid. The setting is eerie, the premise is intriguing. We are all set up for a wonderful walk through the strange, strange south. Then, about two thirds of the way through the book, I get the sense that that someone told the author to quit pissing around and being literary and write a novel just like other horror novels.
Suddenly, many of the characters develop convenient but unconvincing paralysis. The "ones across the river" are disappointingly revealed to be... well, let's just say they're a lot less interesting and more predictable than they could have been.
This is not a bad horror book. But it could have been an outstanding piece of writing and a better horror story. The initial development of delightful creeping dread reveals itself to be less than the potential of the story promised.
All this said, I'm only so critical because for the first three quarters, it's just brilliant.
Canadian girl in Kansas, love audible, books on kindle or kindle fire, and old fashioned books! I enjoy fiction most, mostly books with strong female leads. Favourite authors: Diana Gabaldon, Stephen King, Jodi Picoult, Wally Lamb, Pat Conroy, Andre Dubus III, Lisa Genova, many more!
Buelman's 'Those Across The River' was a real find for me. I can't remember who turned me on to it, but I am so glad I listened to it. There were a few problems with some sentences ending to abruptly, but not enough to abandon this most exquisite tale of terror in small town Georgia.
Eudora and Frank Nichols have moved to a sleepy town in the south so that they could start fresh in a home they inherited from Frank's aunt. Frank's aunt does warn them that things aren't 'quite right' with the house, and tells them to sell it right away and not to live in it.
The couple is looking for a way to get back on their feet, so they decide, against any caution, to move into the home. The townspeople seem fairly nice but much too 'Southern Like.' The setting takes place after World War I and the author does a great job in painting a post war picture.
Strange and terrible things start to happen in the town when a child is ripped to shreds and eaten. When a bunch of bodies are dug up and pieced back together at the local high school, terror runs like a high fever and the townspeople start to fear for their very lives. They have one thing to focus on and worry about- They've upset 'Those Across The River.'
This book is an excellent thrill ride filled with voluminous relationships, gentle and kid flowing prose, and some fascinating, loving and memorable characters. I would highly recommend this book for anyone who likes a good thrill, and good literature at the same time. Don't let the few hiccups in the recording bother you!
I almost passed on this book based on the comments concerning the audio problems. There is certainly the occasional clipped word, but they are few and far between. I didn't find it distracting, and missed none of the story.
It's tough to say too much without saying too much, if you know what I mean. From a writing perspective, it's always great when an author who can string a nice sentence together ventures into this genre. That's what we have here. The writing is descriptive and lends atmosphere without ever detracting from the story line. Very well done.
The narrator gets top marks, too. The cast of characters could have easily overwhelmed a lesser performer, but he nails it!
I am currently listening to this book for a second time. The story sneaks up on you in a way that absolutely forces you to keep listening. The setting is perfect for the horror that slowly unfolds and with the combination of the talented voice actor and the incredibly believable writing of the author it is a story that will stick with you for a long time.
Only problem I had was that there seemed to be something wrong with the recording. Throughout the audio sentences seemed to be clipped off at the end and words to complete sentences seem to have been lost.
I felt unease from the first few minutes listening to this story. It took a bit of listening to place it in time. I guess if I had looked at the Publisher's Summary I would have seen that it was 1939, but I didn't so I had to try to figure it out, which I did eventually.
At first the unease is in the relationship between Frank and Eudora. The author does a good job to give you a sense that there is something off about the relationship, and you discover later that the start of their relationship has created chaos and trauma for them both.
Then there is Whitbrow, and that place is odd and so many things make you uneasy that you know something is going on. The town has a strange ritual of sending pigs across the river as a sacrifice and when they decide it's a silly ritual and to stop, things go haywire.
A good horror story makes me uncomfortable as this one did. There is one scene towards the end that still makes me a little ill thinking about it, but it is what the one thing that allows Frank to make a decision about what he is going to do and is crucial to the story.
Well written, nice prose, and a sense of unease that blooms into terror. What more could you want from a horror novel?
This is one scary book. I really enjoyed it. I love to listen to scary stories, especially when I am home alone! This one was a good one! I really like the way the mystery builds and instills a sense of fright, making you want to yell "run, stupid".
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