The Elementals by Michael McDowell

The Elementals - Michael McDowell

This book was a total pleasure, from start to finish. To enhance that pleasure, I read it with a group of horror lovers over at Goodreads and we had a ball! 


This book was written in the 80's and a lot of my fellow book loving friends have recommended it to me over the last few years. Problem was it was out of print and I couldn't even find 1 copy of anything he's written in the various used book stores in which I shop. Then,  Valancourt Books come to the rescue! Valancourt is dedicated to bringing back some of these out of print books and it's impossible for me to say how on board with that I am. 


Anyway, this book ROCKED. A southern family vacations at their family's spit of land in southern Alabama, which they call Beldame. There are three houses, but only two families. Something is wrong with that third house and they all feel it.


The characters are crazy and memorable. Big Barbara-southern matriarch and drunk. India-a young girl from NYC trying to reconcile herself to a beach home in the south.  Her father, Luker, with whom she has a very strange relationship.  These are just a few of the fascinating characters that Mr. McDowell brings alive. He also brings Beldame alive with his descriptions of life on the gulf, the sweltering heat, the shifting dunes. I felt like I was there.


Another thing that I, (and a few others reading the book with me), enjoyed was the way the author would write a smooth paragraph where everything is cool and then WHAM: one  chilling sentence that rocked the world of the reader. Over and over this technique was employed and I loved it. I truly loved it. 


That's all I'm going to say about the plot. This book comes with an intro from Michael Rowe, author of the most excellent book, Enter, Night. I avoided reading the intro until I had finished the book, because sometimes the intro gives a lot away. There is also a small section about the author in which I discovered that Michael McDowell wrote the screenplay for Beetlejuice. That didn't surprise me because the characters in this book came alive to me just like the characters in Beetlejuice did. 


This is a most excellent example of atmospheric, literary 80's horror and I cannot recommend it enough. I originally gave this 4 stars, but after thinking about it overnight, I cannot think of one thing that the author could have done better. So five stars it is for The Elementals. Read it!