“A mix of magic realism and Southern gothic, this stunning collaboration between King and McDowell… moves at a hypnotic pace, like an Alabama water moccasin slipping through black water.”
Starred Review. A mix of magic realism and Southern gothic, this stunning collaboration between King (Survivor) and McDowell (The Elementals), who died in 1999, moves at a hypnotic pace, like an Alabama water moccasin slipping through black water. Set in the late 1950s, the narrative paints a bitingly bittersweet portrait of Calliope “Calley” Carroll Dakin, a seven-year-old child caught in a web of deceit, secrets and the supernatural. Calley, a little girl with big ears, can communicate with departed spirits. When one character asks Calley if she can hear the dead, she replies, “Yes, ma’am… but it ain’t worth hearing.” Or is it? After Calley’s self-made father, Joe Cane Dakin, who owns a chain of car dealerships, is murdered in New Orleans in a botched kidnapping, the spirit voices come in handy because now Calley’s in danger, too. Later, Roberta Ann, Calley’s Southern-belle—from-hell mama who never let her husband forget his humble origins, takes the girl to a mysterious Pensacola B&B. There Calley’s talents gradually enable her to find sweet justice for her daddy and to appreciate the pure delight of nature’s revenge. (June) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Seven-year-old Calley Dakin is thrown into the all-female whirlwind of her mother’s family when her father is gruesomely murdered. The Carrolls fancy themselves Alabama aristocracy and scheme amongst themselves as well as with others to grab the wealth that undergirds the pretense. That scheming involves Calley, whose extraordinary ears hear not only the living but also the dead, whom she sometimes sees, too. She doesn’t know she’s the eye of the family storm, much less who she can trust, as she is carted from home to Grandmother Mamadee’s to the Victorian house on the Gulf of Mexico in which she grows up. McDowell, who wrote the stories on which Beetlejuice and The Nightmare before Christmas are based, hadn’t finished this lightly supernatural confection when he died in 1999. King completes it beautifully as to tone, aura, and flavor, and it’s funny and intriguing, magnetically readable. Some may be disappointed, though, that in the end Calley is much less likable (she’s a heartless liberal philanthropist) than triumphant.
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