Published Sept 2015 By G.P. Putnam Sons
From a unique new talent comes a fast-paced debut, introducing a heroine whose dark visions bring to light secrets that will heal or destroy those around her . . .When New York journalist and recently bereaved mother Charlotte “Charlie” Cates begins to experience vivid dreams about children she’s sure that she’s lost her mind. Yet these are not the nightmares of a grieving parent, she soon realizes. They are messages and warnings that will help Charlie and the children she sees, if only she can make sense of them. The Gates of Evangeline is a Southern Gothic mystery debut that combines literary suspense and romance with a mystical twist
The above blurb is an edited version of the one found on Goodreads and I urge you to stick with this version. This is a book I went into pretty blind after my friend Annie at The Misstery highly recommended it. When she said it was an atmospheric southern novel with an amazing mystery that’s pretty much all I needed to hear!
The beginning of the story was, for me, a pretty slow burn set up of the rest of the book, but that’s not a negative at all as I found it quite interesting. We meet Charlie who’s struggling to put her life back together following the sudden death of her young son. I really felt for her and thought the author did a great job weaving in the details of Charlie’s day to day fight to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I felt a connection with her character fairly quickly which is so important to me if I’m going to stay engaged with a story and want to keep turning the pages. Soon, Charlie begins having dreams, very particular ones, that involve children. These dreams eventually lead her to Louisiana where the plot really takes off.
The remainder of the novel centers on a sprawling mystery that had its beginnings 30 years ago when 3 year old Gabriel Deveau vanished without a trace from his locked bedroom in the Evangeline estate. There are so many threads to this mystery, several key players who may or may not be involved but all of whom have a stake in the outcome in one way or another. I have to say, the setting of a gothic southern estate in the swampy town of Evangeline was perfect and contributed to the claustrophobic feel of the story.
Needless to say, Charlie becomes entangled in the story of Gabriel’s disappearance (among other things) and along the way finds herself questioning if she can trust the alliances she has made. Through the peeling back of the layers of this mystery we get to know Charlie better and while, on the one hand, I really liked her and felt she was there for the right reasons, there were also many times her character came across as very judgmental of southern people. Some of the off handed comments she made about townspeople and Noah were patronizing and made her seem as if she thought she was better than them. This bothered me because it didn’t seem to be congruent with what we knew of her character before she went to Louisiana.
Other than the character inconsistency, I have to say I really enjoyed this book. I love that the author told the story in a linear format. There was no jumping back and forth of timeframes or narrators and I’m finding that I really prefer this method of storytelling. In my opinion, it keeps the story flowing which keeps the pace quick. I was also completely on board with the use of premonitions as well as the web like mystery that kept me guessing until the final pages. Just when I thought I had it figured out, the author dropped a bomb or added another detail which caused me to constantly change my mind…I LOVE it when that happens! If you like well plotted mysteries with a little something different thrown in, I would highly recommend grabbing a copy of this book. The second book in the series, The Shimmering Road, was just published Feb 9 and it’s at the top of my TBR so the good news is..there’s more to come.
Many thanks G.P. Putnam’s Sons via Netgalley and Hester Young for my copy. I’m happy to provide an honest review.