Friday, January 14, 2011
Arlen Wagner has seen it in men before--a trace of smoke in their eyes that promises imminent death. He is never wrong.
When Arlen awakens on a train one hot Florida night and sees death's telltale sign in the eyes of his fellow passengers, he tries to warn them. Only 19-year-old Paul Brickhill believes him, and the two abandon the train, hoping to escape certain death. They continue south, but soon are stranded at the Cypress House--an isolated Gulf Coast boarding house run by the beautiful Rebecca Cady--directly in the path of an approaching hurricane.
The storm isn't the only approaching danger, though. A much deadlier force controls the county and everyone living in it, and Arlen wants out--fast. But Paul refuses to abandon Rebecca to face the threats alone, even though Arlen's eerie gift warns that if they stay too long they may never leave. From its chilling beginning to terrifying end, The Cypress House is a story of relentless suspense from "one of the best of the best" (Michael Connelly). -- Little Brown
Last year I had the opportunity to actually meet Michael Koryta when I was in New York for BEA. Well, "meet" isn't probably the right word -- I heard him read from his book SO COLD THE RIVER and I waited in line for him to sign my book. But nonetheless, I felt as if I had a "personal" connection to Mr. Koryta. (What can I say? I'm kind of a stalker that way when it comes to authors.) So I was super-excited when I came back home, read SO COLD THE RIVER and discovered that I actually loved it (my review.)
As is the case anytime I find a book that I enjoy, I anxiously await the author's next novel; and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I wouldn't have to wait a full year for Mr. Koryta's next suspense novel, THE CYPRESS HOUSE.(It was only about eight months!) I was excited to read it but also a little afraid that it wouldn't live up to my expectations. However, I have to say that I found this book to be just as entertaining as SO COLD THE RIVER.
There are many things that I appreciated about THE CYPRESS HOUSE -- it had an intriguing story with some interesting characters (and even a little love story thrown in), and I admit that I couldn't put the book down as the suspense built over the last half. Then, there's that whole supernatural aspect thing going on. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not always a big fan of books with supernatural elements. I sometimes have a difficult time suspending reality and actually believing; however, this is the second book now that I've read by Mr. Koryta and I thoroughly appreciated his handling of the supernatural aspects. Not only did I totally buy it in both novels, but I thought these elements were a terrific part of the stories.
And I really can't rave enough about Mr. Koryta's writing! I really need to go back and read his earlier novels, especially the award-winning ones. He can certainly tell a good story -- there's no doubt about that, but I really think he's a fabulous writer. THE CYPRESS HOUSE is an entertaining story, but it's also so much more than that. The characters in this novel, especially Arlen, are very well developed; and I actually loved how complex he was. As the story unfolded, I found out about Arlen's past (his relationship with his father and his wartime experiences), and it allowed me to understand Arlen and even feel closer to his character.
In addition to the character development, I loved Mr. Koryta's descriptions -- they were just so vivid. And he really did make "The Cypress House" come alive as another character in this story. (I remember feeling the same way about the setting when I read SO COLD THE RIVER.) I truly could picture all of the people and places perfectly as I read this story, and sometimes I could even feel the heat and humidity of Florida. And I don't know what it is about storms (both SO COLD THE RIVER and THE CYPRESS HOUSE had them), but Mr. Koryta definitely has a skill for building the tension as the storm closes in on the characters. Of course, he has a way with creating tension for the reader throughout the story in a variety of ways!
It's a little bit out of the box for my group, but I do think THE CYPRESS HOUSE would make an excellent book club pick. The story is definitely entertaining, but the complexity of the characters make it an interesting book to discuss. There is a reading guide available with ten good discussion questions. Some of the topics you might want to explore are the setting of the novel, father/son relationships, love, guilt, forgiveness, and denial.
Needless to say, I highly recommend THE CYPRESS HOUSE. If you haven't yet read a book by Mr. Koryta, then you are certainly missing out!
Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of this novel.
Giveaway alert: Thanks to the publisher, I have copies of THE CYPRESS HOUSE and SO COLD THE RIVER to share with three lucky readers!!! Yes -- you can win both of these novels! To enter, just fill out the form below before Thursday, January 20th at 11:59 p.m. ET. I will randomly select and notify the winners the following day. This contest is open to those of you in the U.S. and Canada only -- no p.o. boxes please. Good luck!