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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

#Audiobook #Review: 4 out of 5 stars for The Elementals by Michael McDowell @Valancourt_B

AUTHOR: Michael McDowell
PUBLISHER: Valancourt Books
PUBLICATION DATE: January 24, 2016 (first published 1981)
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 8 hrs and 11 mins
GENRE: Horror
On a split of land cut off by the Gulf, three Victorian summer houses stand against the encroaching sand. Two of the houses at Beldame are still used. The third house, filling with sand, is empty...except for the vicious horror which is shaping nightmares from the nothingness that hangs in the dank, fetid air.

The McCrays and Savages, two fine Mobile families allied by marriage, have been coming to Beldame for years. This summer, with a terrible funeral behind them and a messy divorce coming up, even Luker McCray and little Indian down from New York are looking forward to being alone at Beldame.

But they won't be alone. For something there, something they don't like to think about, is thinking about them...and about all the ways to make them die.


I love haunted house stories. This one wasn’t particularly scary, which is a shame, but I did really enjoy the family dynamics!

The funeral for the Savage family’s matriarch, Marian, takes place in the book’s prologue. She was predeceased by her husband and one of her sons. As her only daughter joined a convent, nearly all of Marian’s fortune was left to her surviving son, Dauphin, who was already one of the richest men in Mobile, Alabama at the age of 29. Only immediate family members are in attendance at the funeral, and it’s a good thing because no one would understand the bizarre family ritual of plunging a knife into the deceased’s heart at the funeral to ensure death!

Following the funeral, Dauphin wants to escape to the family’s coastal summer home known as Beldame. There are actually three homes, and the Great House is the primary residence that was occupied by his parents. Dauphin lives in the secondary house with his wife, Lee. The third house has not been used in a very long time, so it has remained vacant. The sand has started to encroach upon the house, making it unsafe.

Travelling to the Savage family property with Dauphin and Lee is the family’s maid, Odessa, and Lee’s family: Mother, Big Barbara; brother, Lukar McCray; and Lukar’s daughter, 13-year-old India. Big Barbara is an alcoholic, and the family is hoping that she will dry out on the vacation and they neglect to take any alcohol with them to the remote area. Luther is 33 years old and takes uppers and downers, and his relationship with his daughter is most troubling. He allows his daughter, India, to drink alcohol and coffee and he walks naked around her! She lays out his clothes for him, and she often is the one calling the shots! It’s a very weird father-daughter relationship, and India doesn’t even call him Dad but calls Lukar by his first name (just he calls his mother by her first name). The only “normal” ones in the family are Dauphin and Lee. Try as she might with her voodoo and black magic, Odessa cannot keep the evil spirits at bay.

I enjoyed learning about the Savage family’s history, which I thought was very interesting. The author did a really good job at fleshing out the characters and provided lots of background information on them. The characters in the story were strong, but I found the horror element of the tale to be weak. The atmosphere of Beldame was dark and should have been a perfect set-up for fright, with its seclusion and oppressive heat. I really enjoyed the story, but I did not find it scary at all which was a bit of a disappointment. This author is new to me, but I definitely want to try him again as I really enjoy his writing.

Narrator R.C. Bray is new-to-me, and I enjoyed him very much. He handled the female voices with ease, which not all male narrators can do, and I liked the different vocalizations that he gave each character. I thought he was a good fit.

4 stars!! It was really good, even though it didn't give me chills. However, I did enjoy the writing.

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