Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Book Review: "Nightwoods"

Charles Frazier's third novel is Nightwoods (Random House, 2011), a rich Appalachian tale told with clear prose and a fair helping of suspense. Our main character is Luce, a woman living on the outskirts of a small isolated North Carolina town whose world is changed mightily with the arrival of Frank and Dolores, the orphaned young children of her murdered sister. Luce faces quite a challenge connecting with this pair of traumatized youngsters, whose arsonist and, shall we say deconstructionist tendencies cause no end of problems.

With plenty of trouble on her hands, Luce certainly doesn't need what comes next: her sister's acquitted murderer, eager to find something of his which he suspects might be wherever the children are. And then there's the heir of her former employer, the new owner of the abandoned lodge where she lives as the caretaker; he's arrived too, and (naturally) sparks fly.

A fast read, mainly because it's difficult to put down; I wanted to know what came next, even if it was going to make me squirm (and it did, a few times). Frazier's written a dark but hopeful novel, both funny and heart-wrenching at times.

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