“Haunted by memories of the Great War, failed academic Frank Nichols and his wife have arrived in the sleepy Georgia town of Whitbrow, where Frank hopes to write a history of his family’s old estate—the Savoyard Plantation—and the horrors that occurred there. At first their new life seems to be everything they wanted. But under the facade of summer socials and small-town charm, there is an unspoken dread that the townsfolk have lived with for generations. A presence that demands sacrifice.
It comes from the shadowy woods across the river, where the ruins of the Savoyard Plantation still stand. Where a long-smoldering debt of blood has never been forgotten.
Where it has been waiting for Frank Nichols….” – Amazon’s summary
Georgia in the 1930’s. A small town struggling with poverty and also its own dark history. Their monthly ritual of sending pigs out into the woods comes into question considering they are basically tossing out perfectly good meat that could have been eaten or sold. Newcomers Frank Nichols (who has family ties to the old plantation with its dark history) and his wife are both for ending this seemingly pointless, pagan ritual. When the votes come back to end the ritual however, horrible things start happening to the citizens of the town.
I’ve never really read a horror novel that also felt a bit like a period piece. With Frank’s PTSD type nightmares of the war and the hard-to-let-go prejudices of whites vs blacks, this could very easily just be a historical novel of a man struggling to deal with the side effects of having been in the trenches and then struggling in a damaged economy. Until the monsters show up of course.
The story was very well paced and keeps your attention. The characters seem so real, which helps to draw you further into the story. This town and the citizens could have easily existed in the 1930’s (maybe even present time in some places). I would be surprised if this author never lived in the south.
There is a word mentioned in the book to describe the events, and it is an excellent word to sum up the book as a whole: Alas. It’s a story of the past coming back to haunt you, punishment for decisions and/or events whether you were culpable or not, and the realization that you can’t change the past or the current problems connected to that past. Once you accept that, alas, things are how they are, all you can do is fight to keep living in the hopes you can make the future better than the past.