A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
After their parents mysteriously disappeared on Florida’s Styx river, young Margaret and Jerry Larkin had to struggle to take over the family farm. Now, fifteen years later, the same fate that took her parents is waiting just around the corner for poor Margaret, and this time no one will mistake her death for anything but murder.
The first half of Cold Moon Over Babylon reads like a murder mystery with a spooky southern gothic atmosphere. Then Michael McDowell delivers a shocking blow to our expectations and the supernatural horror comes rushing in with a vengeance.
The book has its flaws. Imaginative horror elements mingle with a few stale ones. The plot comes together a little too neatly to give it the sense of reality that would truly scare us. But McDowell’s talents as a writer make up for all that. The setting of Babylon, Florida comes alive with swampy atmosphere. We feel like we meet most of the town, and even many of the smaller characters are given detail and believable motivation.
I prefer McDowell’s The Elementals-—a tightly plotted and terrifying novel with a smaller cast—but this more cinematic horror tale is worth your time too.
If you’re a fan of the genre and you haven’t gotten around to reading Michael McDowell yet, now’s a good time. Valancourt Books is doing the good work of helping us rediscover him, finally bringing these cult classic mass markets from the ’80s back into print. Look for more of them on our shelves soon.
Review by Matthew