The Cypress House by Michael Koryta. Little, Brown, 2011.
The Cypress House is Michael Koryta's second novel with a supernatural bent but the only one of the three set in the past. It takes place during the Depression and focuses on a CCC worker named Arlen Wagner. Arlen has a gift. He can see death on people before it strikes.
The novel opens with Arlen and junior CCC worker Paul Brickhill on a train to the Florida Keys and a CCC bridge project. Then Arlen sees death on everyone around him and knows they have to get off the train. He and Paul don't reboard at the next stop. A hitched ride eventually leads them to the Cypress House where it quickly becomes obvious they've traded one danger for another. Together with the owner of the Cypress House, Rebecca Cady, they must defeat that danger before death comes for them again.
Koryta creates a solid, believable voice for each of his Depression-era characters. He was able to make them inhabit the era without sounding forced. And talk about tension. For the last quarter of the book especially, I was pinned to the edge of my seat as everything came to a head. I had no idea who would survive or if they would succeed at all. The Cypress House was a joy to read. If you liked So Cold the River, I'm confident you will love The Cypress House. Despite my affinity for the setting of So Cold the River (I am a born and bred Hoosier after all.), The Cypress House quickly became my new favorite Koryta novel. If you haven't read it yet, go get it now!
Review : So Cold the River
Bookish event : Michael Koryta, author (Feb. 2011)
Bookish event : Michael Koryta, author (June 2011)
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The Cypress House
So Cold the River