Sunday, February 14, 2016

Off The Shelf - The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young

Welcome to my first official post as one of the new members of the She Reads Blog Network! (Click here if you missed my announcement about being a part of this incredible group of women). In today's Off The Shelf, I'm sharing with you The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young, one She Reads' Books of Winter.

Genre: Fiction
Synopsis from the publisher, G.P. Putnam's Sons, an imprint of Penguin Random House L.L.C., 2015 hardcover edition, 410 pages:

"Her Gift Can Save A Child... If It Doesn't Destroy A Family First.

When New York Journalist and recently bereaved mother Charlotte "Charlie" Cates begins to experience vivid dreams about children in danger, she's sure that she's lost her mind. Yet these are not the nightmares of a grieving parent. They are warnings that will help her and the children she sees, if only she can make sense of them.

After a little boy in a boat appears in Charlie's dreams, asking her for help, she finds herself entangled in a world-famous thirty-year-old missing-child cast that has never ceased to haunt Louisiana's prestigious Deveau family. Armed with an invitation to Evangeline, the family's sprawling estate, Charlie heads south, where new friendships and an unlikely romance bring healing. But as she uncovers long-buried secrets of love, money, betrayal, and murder, the facts begin to implicate those who most wanted to trust - and her visions reveal an evil closer than she could have imagined. 

A rich and hair-raising thriller that sweeps through the lavish affluence and the dark swamplands of the American South in one fell swoop, The Gates of Evangeline is a magnificent debut that will leave you breathlessly guessing until the startling conclusion. 

Hester Young holds a master's degree in English with a concentration in creative writing from the University of Hawai'i at Manoa, and her short stories have appeared in Hawai'i Review and other magazines. Before turning to writing full time, she was a teacher in Arizona and New Hampshire. Young lives in New Jersey with her husband and two children."

I have to say right off the bat that this is why I love bookclubs! Otherwise, I can't say whether or not The Gates of Evangeline would have made it onto my radar, especially because I don't normally read books involving mothers who have lost children. (That aspect hits a little too close to home). Now, I will say that somehow I missed the "bereaved mother" part of the synopsis, and had I not, I may not have picked this book after-all. (Nearly 17 years later it's still not easy for me to read about. My grief was such that it took me many, many years to process and eventually actively work through, and heal to the extent that I could - as with everything else in life, it's different for every single person).

So, I was a little caught off guard by that aspect, but The Gates of Evangeline started out strong, and hooked me right off the bat, which is why I kept going regardless. It's a lesson in tension with, what some may call, a supernatural twist to it, although I'm more inclined to call Charlie's dreams and visions magical realism (so tomato - tamato to a degree). I felt a little lost around the middle of the book, but then I realized that Charlie felt the same way, which made perfect sense. I admit I figured out a few big pieces of the puzzle early on (no worries, I won't spoil them for you!), but I kept moving to see how they, along with the other possible suspects and concurrent story-lines, would eventually be linked together and revealed in the end. I was definitely surprised by the actual source of Charlie's dreams and visions. That connection I never made, though now that I've finished the book, I see what I missed. The big question I was left with? Will we learn more about Charlie's grandmother in the books to come? (The Gates of Evangeline is book one of three featuring character Charlotte "Charlie" Cates). I found her to be a compelling character! After all, she used to have "creepy dreams" too.

A few quotes that stuck out to me as I read:

"There is nothing more unnatural than losing your child. Not even talking to the dead." Page 38

"You can tell a lot about an area from its library..." Page 54

"Was this ever a house that wanted children, or did it just tolerate them until they were old enough to send off to boarding school?" Page 118

Links for reference:

Author Hester Young's Twitter: Click here.
Author Hester Young's Facebook: Click here.
(Publisher link above with initial book title reference at beginning of post).

I want to thank Penguin Random House for providing me with a free copy of The Gates of Evangeline as a member of the She Reads Blog Network for review. (Opinions are my own, and I am not required by the publisher or She Reads to write a positive review, nor have I received compensation for this review).

For more Off The Shelf posts, click here and scroll down.

For my most recent posts here at This Perfectly Imperfect Life, scroll down from this one.

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