book review: The Gates of Evangeline

gates of evangeline

The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young. G.P. Putnam’s Sons| September 2015| 416 pages | $25.95| ISBN: 9780399174001

RATING: ****/5*

“The last few days at Evangeline, I’ve accomplished little. I’ve met most of the staff, but no one’s warmed to me like Leeann. They see me for what I am, a college-educated woman from the Northeast out for dirt on the rich people they serve. Why would they trust me?”

New York journalist Charlotte “Charlie” Cates recently lost her young son. He died at three years old from a brain aneurysm. Charlie recently gets messages from children in danger either dying or dead or maybe not. She’s really not sure. She just knows she must travel to Louisiana after a vision she gets about a boy in a swamp. She thinks perhaps she can solve this decades old case. She leaves the fancy magazine Sophisticate for which she works and takes a book assignment about a wealthy, eccentric family and the never solved disappearance of a young child. It’s a cool Southern Gothic. Maybe because the main character is a New Yorker. There’s humor and truth in Charlie: “I blink, trying not to convey my horror. War of Northern Aggression? Is that what they call the Civil War down here? She describes her office environment at the glossy magazine thus: “I work with a lot of women. There’s a handful of gay men, and probably a straight guy buried somewhere in the ranks, but for the most part, Sophisticate runs on a very specific type of estrogen: bitchy, hypereducated New Yorker.” On her attraction to Noah, a landscaper working at the estate: “Any way you slice it, Noah’s an unpredictable choice. I’m an overeducated, liberal New Yorker. Noah doesn’t even have a college degree. He’s from Texas. He wears cowboy boots and probably owns guns Ten to one he’s a Republican.” Solid, expressive, visual writing. Wonderful characters. Exceptional setting – a bit dark, rich in history–and premise. Charlie is cool because she’s this educated New Yorker in a small town in the South. While it could’ve easily been a predictable city girl finds herself in the country story, Charlie’s enterprising and open attitude makes this novel work. Perhaps since she’s willing to examine elements others might avoid. It’s a perfect Halloween/fall/winter read.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Putnam.

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