A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
India looked up. Though the moon was still obscured, its reflection remained in that upstairs window. But it wasn’t the moon— a face, pale and with only the barest suggestion of features, was slowly retreating from the window into the darkness…
I picked up The Elementals purely out of curiosity but was immediately hooked. It’s a wonderfully written, highly atmospheric Southern Gothic with some genuine frights in it. I stayed up late to finish it and then stayed up even later—just a little reluctant to shut off the lights.
October is my horror reading month. I spend the other 11 months piling-up potential novels for the big reading binge. But in this case August might have been a more fitting choice. The Elementals happens to be one of the only ghost stories I’ve ever read with a bright, sunny, and hot setting. Most of the scares take place on an isolated stretch of beach in Alabama called Beldame. McDowell renders that beach perfectly—you’ll feel its sand between your toes and smell its salt air as you struggle for breath in the stifling Alabama heat.
The plot follows the latest generations of two aristocratic Southern families, the Savages and the McCrays, as they take a much needed vacation at Beldame. The families have frightful myths and legends in their past, of course, but that’s not exactly what they encounter on the beach. It’s something more, well, elemental that haunts them. All the characters are fully fleshed-out. You’ll care about what happens to them. Especially young India McCray. Raised in New York and visiting her Alabama relatives for the first time, she’s really the reader’s eyes and ears as she struggles to piece together her new surroundings.
I can’t recommend it enough. We’ve got The Elementals in our fiction section. Check it out next time your in the mood for a warm weather horror novel.