Okay. Let’s get some stuff out of the way before we get into this review. Yes, Isaac Thorne is part of our team. No he did not ask me to review his book. I actually put in for an advance review copy of The Gordon Place through his website and didn’t say a word to him about it until after I finished the book. As with any other reviews I do, I’m giving you my honest opinion here. Unlike most of my reviews, I’ll try to stay away from spoilers because when this review is posted the book still won’t be available for about a week.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get into the review!
Graham Gordon is the newly elected constable of his hometown, Lost Hollow. He’s a small town man with a less-than-happy past but he is working on making his future better. To start with, he plans to renovate his abandoned and dilapidated childhood home. After being trapped in the cellar, he learns that some families’ secrets are darker than others.
While Graham is dealing with his cellar issue, a reporter and her cameraman from the local TV station are on their way to Lost Hollow to do a Halloween-themed puff piece for the evening news. One of their stops on the tour of Lost Hollow’s supposedly haunted places is the old Gordon Place. They have no idea what that house and its occupants have in store for them.
Afia is no stranger to Lost Hollow. She lived there until she was twelve years old when her father’s murder forced her to go into the foster care system. Though she is a consummate professional, her journalistic detachment begins to waiver as the memories of her years as the only black kid in an otherwise all-white small southern town come flooding back.
Staff has never stepped foot in Lost Hollow but he has his own ideas about what small southern towns are like. His mindset is partially formed from the fact that he is a gay man in the south. He grew up with parents who accepted him but encouraged him to remain closeted in an attempt to make his life easier.
These two characters are probably my favorite part of the book. They aren’t just Black Woman and Gay Man any more than they are just Reporter and Cameraman. Afia and Staff are fully fleshed out characters with real personalities, ideals, and flaws. The way they play off of one another is spectacular. You get the feeling that they have worked together for awhile and you get to watch their bond get stronger as they go through their ordeal. The rest of the major characters in The Gordon Place are just as well put together but these two are my favorite; they’re the kind of characters that you just want more of at the end of the story.
Another one of my favorite pars of The Gordon Place is the villain. Even though the villain himself is technically supernatural, the evil at his core is incredibly human. He’s a blue collar southern alcoholic bigot with a pretty indiscriminate violent streak. Honestly, I relate to him on a really weird level. Not because I see myself in him but because I see members of my family in him. I really think that there are many of us who grew up in the south that could say the same thing. We all have that one uncle or dad who drinks a little too much, and has some less than favorable opinions about those who are not straight white Christian guys. Having known so many people like this makes this villain feel all the more real to me and no horror tale is complete without a good villain.
Isaac Thorne is at good at building visuals as he is at writing characters. Even the most strange and otherworldly scenes in the book are so well described that you feel like you’re there in the midst of the action. Decaying houses, psychic warfare, and a face that morphs into a host of other faces are all described so well that you can almost see them. The latter will haunt my dreams for months to come, I’m sure.
Just like a film, a novel can have all manner of beautifully created locations and well-written characters but without a coherent story for them to exist in, it all falls apart. The Gordon Place tells a story that spans decades with only a handful of characters. It doesn’t take long to get hooked on this novel. After about the second chapter, this books gets really hard to put down. Honestly, if it wasn’t for the need for sleep and other responsibilities I would’ve finished it in one sitting. The story is that damned good.
All in all would I recommend The Gordon Place? You bet your Wolverine work boots I would! It’s a tense ghost story where the evil and the characters all feel so real. There are no heroes in Lost Hollow, just ordinary people dealing with extraordinary situations and it makes for a dark and wonderful ride. I think it will resonate especially well with those of us from small towns in the south but any fan of a good scary story should check it out.