Monday, December 12, 2016
After a little boy in a boat appears in Charlie’s dreams, asking for her help, she finds herself entangled in a world-famous thirty-year-old missing-child case that has never ceased to haunt Louisiana’s prestigious Deveau family. Armed with an invitation to Evangeline, the family’s sprawling estate, Charlie heads south, where new friendships and an unlikely romance with the estate’s landscape architect—the warm and handsome Noah Palmer—bring much-needed healing. But as she uncovers long-buried secrets of love, money, betrayal, and murder, the facts begin to implicate those she most wants to trust—and her visions reveal an evil closer than she could have imagined.
A Southern Gothic mystery debut that combines literary suspense and romance with a mystical twist, The Gates of Evangeline is a story that readers of Gillian Flynn, Kate Atkinson, and Alice Sebold won’t be able to put down. -- Putnam
Just last week, I was offered the chance to review THE SHIMMERING ROAD by Hester Young. The book is a sequel to THE GATES OF EVANGELINE which I remember hearing great things about at BEA two years ago. THE GATES OF EVANGELINE was actually a Publishers Weekly and Suspense Magazine Best Book of 2015, and I am so happy to say that I finally read it. The book was fantastic, and I can hardly wait until THE SHIMMERING ROAD is released!
THE GATES OF EVANGELINE tells the story of Charlie Cates, a magazine journalist who is still reeling from the death of her young son. Charlie is consumed by grief when she begins having very realistic dreams about children in danger. These children actually beg for Charlie to help them, and she is determined to properly interpret their words so she can save them!
One young boy appears in her visions that eventually leads Charlie to Louisiana and the Deveau family. Gabe, the youngest child in the family went missing over thirty years ago, and the case was never solved. Charlie ends up getting hired to write a book about the disappearance, and she actually lives on the grounds of the family's massive estate. While Charlie planned on spending her time getting to know the family and conducting research, she finds herself in a romance with a landscape designer who is working on the grounds.
Charlie does make some startling discoveries about the Deveaus' past including some major secrets and some major betrayals. She even begins to suspect that there might have been a murder, but she doesn't know how all of this information will help with the little boy who appears in her dreams. As she becomes more involved with the Deveaus and learns more about their family history, she ends up questioning who she can trust as well as her her own instincts.
I absolutely devoured THE GATES OF EVANGELINE. It was exactly the book I needed at this totally hectic time of the year. I admit that I was a bit concerned that I wouldn't like the Southern gothic aspect of the novel or the "supernatural dreams;" however, I found the novel so well written... and believable that I actually embraced even these parts of the story. In addition, I loved the character of Charlie and rooted for her to save these children who were reaching out to her in her dreams!
Charlie is definitely carrying some very heavy baggage. She was divorced after her husband cheated on her, and even worse, she lost her young son of a brain hemorrhage. She was wracked with grief, but also guilt; and my heart almost broke for her. When she began receiving these visions from young children, Charlie had a purpose again. She couldn't save her own son but maybe she could help others. Charlie evolved a great deal throughout the 400 pages of this novel, and I loved being along for her journey!
In addition to loving the character of Charlie, I have to say that the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Gabe was outstanding. What started as a disappearance of a youngster soon included a murder and more! I was definitely kept guessing through the many twists and turns of the plot, and I honestly only figured out one angle of the story. The rest came as a pretty good surprise to me.
THE GATES OF EVANGELINE would make an excellent discussion book for your next book club meeting. I loved the complexity of Charlie's character and think there's plenty to discuss about her. In addition, there is a reading guide with eight thought-provoking questions. Some of the themes you might want to explore are faith, fate, chance, grief, loss, friendship, love, secrets, culture differences, and more.
I totally loved THE GATES OF EVANGELINE and I'm just thrilled that it's part of a trilogy! That means I will have two more chances to experience Charlie's adventures and Ms. Young's terrific writing.
Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.
Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.