Buncombe Brief Book Review

Buncombe Brief Book Review: The Elementals by Michael McDowell

The Savage and McCray families own two homes on a secluded area of beach in Alabama, which has been a long staple in their families lives, going back to the younger days of members of both families.  However, a third house in their little hamlet is slowly being devoured by a sand dune and both families warn their children not go to near it. While they make the argument that it’s simply unsound, the truth is there is a terror that lives in the house which seems to have awoken and begins to follow the younger members of the families as they vacation in this off-the-map area during the summer.

While I don’t want to give any specifics, I think this is a great horror novel, which was published in the early 80s and holds up after a few decades.  There is mystery and horror mingled throughout the story and a secret past that starts to creep into their modern-day lives to the point where they have to start facing some of the terrible happenings of the past.

This story is more of a slow-burn horror tale but it’s still one that keeps you intrigued.  It’s an interesting and scary setting too. These houses are on what seems to be an isolated beach that is inaccessible (and inescapable) at high tide, so the dark entity lurking in the third house is itself inescapable when the road is washed out.

For me, this was a different, more slow-forming horror story, like The Haunting of Hill House and I really enjoyed the haunted tale, the history of these families, and the conclusion.  The action picks up late in the book but the mystery and suspense kept me reading. For folks that like a little more build in their horror, I would suggest this one because it’s a shorter novel but one that brings a lot of foreboding terror that kept me interested.