The Gates of Evangeline; Hester Young
G. P. Putnam & Sons & Penguin Audio
(January Lavoy - narrator)
The Gates of Evangeline is a recent debut which blends mystery, ghost story, romance and Southern Gothic into a very readable novel. It's the first of a planned trilogy.
Charlotte (Charlie) Cates has a lot on her plate. She's a grieving mother who tragically lost her 4 year old son Keegan. Now divorced and back at her fairly high powered job at Sophisticate magazine she's got even more reason for anxiety with big management changes happening at work. Even bedtime fails to calm Charlie. She has been plagued with troubling dreams of young children calling out for help in the middle of the night. One small child in particular, a boy named JoJo calling out for help from a small boat in the middle of a swamp is especially haunting for her.
When a former colleague asks her to write a true-crime story about a young boy named Gabriel Deveau who went missing from his bedroom in 1982, his disappearance still unsolved, she accepts the offer. She believes this somehow might be connected to her dream.
Charlie travels from New York City to Chicory, Louisiana to research her story. Staying at the Evangeline plantation with the now 40-something twin sisters of the boy who disappeared decades earlier, she bumps heads with a unique cast of characters while doing her research. Charlie has her work cut out for her as it's clear some people want long buried secrets to stay buried.
One of the best things about this read were the characters, especially Charlie. All the characters were very well drawn and believable. The fact that some of them didn't want Charlie around made me wonder about what they had to fear or hide. Although I felt engaged and invested in the story, it did drag in spots despite having an awful lot going on in it -- grieving mother, mystery, romance, ghost story and plenty of family drama and secrets. Despite the great atmospheric feel, I might have enjoyed this one even more if it had been a little more straight forward. Despite that I would still consider reading the sequel when it is released.
(audio and eGalley)