Reprinted from Sleeping Hedgehog which you really should visit.
If so, do I have a deal for you!
A good ghost story is something I'm always keenly interested in. Now please note that I'm not all that fond of horror. I just don't find it worth reading most of the time. But a well-crafted ghost story is not really done for the purpose of scaring you and me into pissing our pants: a ghost story done just right is more gentle, less gory, far more than a mere scary story.
Now add in another layer of storytelling: Southern Gothic. As one reviewer for us said, it is ‘at its best is not just horror stories. It is a reflection of oral history and family legends, the kind of story a child learns while playing around the feet of aunties and grannies at the stove: sometimes warmly familiar, but sometimes dark and full of dubious spirits.’
Ghost stories at their very best are magic realism. And one of the finest practitioners of the Southern Gothic ghost story is Cherie Priest, so let’s look at the novels she’s done in this genre.
Her Eden Moore novels (Four and Twenty Blackbirds, Wings to the Kingdom, and Not Flesh Nor Feathers) are classic ghost stories within the aforementioned Southern Gothic genre. The protagonist, Eden Moore, is never alone, as she, like her ancestors, sees ghosts everywhere. And the novels have a distinctive style that the reviewer of the first novel described as ‘Southern Gothic with a hint of hard boiled mystery: there’s grit in the magnolia honey and in the heroine as well.’ Over the course of the trilogy, Eden will more fully understand the gift she has.
A Very Nasty Thing that will eat you is the bogey man in Those Who Went Remain There Still as Heaster Wharton is finally dead, and his death might hopefully find an end to hostilities between the Manders and the Coys. But first they must deal with a very old horror that always wins. Or did until now. This story is more properly horror but Priest keeps it well within the Southern Gothic genre by refusing to keep to the structures of the horror genre as the family member are far stronger and more ornery than the Very Nasty Thing.
There’s also a collection of shorter works, stories or short novellas depending on your viewpoint, called Dreadful Skin, which got mixed reviewed from our staffer and I think that reflects my belief that this writer is far better when she has the room to flesh out her story.
A final note before I leave for a while: my kudos to the editorial team at Tor Books for choosing the truly spooky covers on the Eden Moore novels which capture the feel of her writing perfectly.