Sunday, December 11, 2011

Those Who Went Remain There Still

Three hard-bitten farmers and a spiritualist enter a cave in search of a treasure--and find monsters. It sounds like a zero level D&D adventure, but its actually the capsule description of events in 19th-Century Kentucky in Cherie Priest’s novella Those Who Went Remain There Still.  In place of divine intervention, the ersatz adventurers have got the ghost of Daniel Boone.

The story begins with Boone and a group of trailblazers cutting a road through the wilderness. Along the way they encounter a bird-like creature that terrorizes them by night, snatching men away one by one. This frontier horror tale unfolds interspersed with events in Kentucky of 1899, where the patriarch of two feuding families, the Coys and Manders, has died and estranged family members are summoned back for the reading of his will.

The two stories intertwine, of course. To receive the old man’s bounty, a chosen group of Coys and Manders must enter the forbidding and noxious Witch’s Cave to retreive his will. There, a horror waits that was not truly conquered by Boone and his band over a century before.

Priest weaves a unusual horror tale that is sort of Lovecraftian (in the sense of being firmly rooted in a particular place, and having “normal” men face horrors beyond their understanding) but mixes it with a definite Southern gothic feel. The basic plot could be inspiration for traditional Medieval fantasy, but the whole idea of frontier monster-slaying is perhaps even better.

Check it out!

7 comments:

ADD Grognard said...

For those who haven't read it Richard Brautigan's 'Hawkline Monster' was my first Gothic Western and remains my favorite. Taking place mainly in Oregon in 1902, the book follows the adventure of two assassins who are hired to kill the monster of the title. It blends horror, science fiction and the western in a completely unique way.

I'm glad for the tip on this one...I just wondered how much steampunk aspect this one has, if any.

JimShelley said...

Wow! Daniel Boone, Thunderbirds and Southern Gothic feel. This sounds like it was written for just for me.

Jeremy Duncan said...

I think we've got that at my local library. I'll have to check it out.

Sub-Radar-Mike said...

This synopsis has given me the urge to go spelunking, hopefully I won't run into any dangers.

Roger the GS said...

Silver John finds K'n-yan ...

Trey said...

@ADD Grognard - No steampunk to this one. It's pretty much historical horror/dark fantasy. Now, Priest's "Clockwork Century" series starting with Boneshaker is indeed steampunk and worth checking out.

@Jim - Probably more harpy than thunderbird, but that's an interesting association.

@Roger - That's a good thought! The underground here isn't that extensive, but I'd love to see the story you suggest.

Needles said...

I believe my library has this one! Looks like an excellent choose for something different & slightly interesting.