REVIEW: Mercer’s Bayou by Patricia SnodgrassWednesday, October 15, 2008 13:00
I can respect Samhain for deciding that they need to stick with romance, which does sell far better for them, but that does mean that soon I will no longer find fun surprises like Mercer’s Bayou. I hope that Ms. Snodgrass plans on writing more in the future, because if this book is any indication, the woman has talent in spades.
The setting is Arkansas, in the small town of Tatum, where James Thomas has come to preach. It doesn’t take him long before he starts to notice that there is something evil lurking in the Cold Hanging Tree near the church. Megan Wallace has also arrived in town with her husband Brody to open an exercise studio. The tree disturbs her, and soon, some local gypsies inform her that she must destroy it. Meanwhile, strange, freak accidents begin to occur, and soon Megan and Thomas are thrown into a nightmare that could destroy the town and everything Megan holds dear.
I loved this story. Firstly, the rural Arkansas setting is evoked beautifully. The characters we meet are more than just your typical good ol’ boys, and I thought that the author’s obvious love for the part of the world in which she lives in real life came through in her writing.
The plot was gripping. Not everyone could pull off a story about a possessed tree and the evil holy roller Christians that surround it without giving major offense to someone. But I was riveted, particularly once the story moved away from Megan and Thomas and focused on some of the other town denizens. Ms. Snodgrass, as I said earlier, has a way of lovingly drawing characters, and she made me care about and fear for the people she created as the plot rapidly approached a climax.
This book isn’t for everyone. There’s a lot of violence, and a fair bit of gore, and I suspect some readers won’t exactly be thrilled with Ms. Snodgrass’s portrayal of Christianity, but for me, I was totally captivated. If I have quibbles, it’s that Megan’s being chosen as the one who had to destroy the tree wasn’t entirely explained to my satisfaction. But I can live with that, because I was carried along completely from the beginning to the end of the story.
Some wounds never heal. Some come back—to kill you.
Scarred in body and spirit, Reverend James Kilpatrick Thomas has accepted a job as pastor of a small community church in Mercer’s Bayou, Arkansas. In this peaceful small town, he prays for spiritual renewal—not just for his congregation, but for his own shredded soul.
Megan and Brody Wallace also seek personal renewal when they leave their hectic lives in Austin, Texas to live a slower paced life on the bayou. After several painful, failed pregnancies, they hope that they’ll find life here a soothing balm.
But an ancient evil grows just outside the church cemetery. And after more than a century of sleep, it’s ready for a deadly revival of its own.
Read an excerpt.