- Paperback: 196 pages
- Publisher: Macabre Ink (April 11, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1941408974
- ISBN-13: 978-1941408971
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.4 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 20 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,597,657 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Gideon's Curse: A Novel of Old Mill, NC
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Top customer reviews
The story is set in post emancipation NC, on a cotton growing Plantation run by Enoch Pope and his sons. The composition is pretty predictable: ex-slaves (still slaving); affinity to cotton planting and harvesting; a swamp context (mysterious and educational); estate owner and sons; a negro overseer whose main duty was to keep the estate economy running smoothly; love and hatred; rape, murder, and secrets.
The core story is about the arrival of a white preacher (Gideon Swayne) from Illinois in a small village (?) where there are already two churches run by white preachers. Amidst objections, he completes his perceived mission to build a church for the spiritual development of Negroes and immigrants. He is beaten almost to a pulp and dumped in the cotton fields where he is found by the workers, and brought back to health by an eccentric lady, Desdemona, a healer (he calls her ‘swamp witch’) with more affinity to the swamp environment than to his concept of traditional God. They fall in love and are ‘married’ and have two children, Gideon and Desdemona.
Gideon (2) beats up Bart Pope, a white bully to the consternation of the people in the camps as they expect a dangerous response. The church is set afire resulting in the fiery deaths of all inside, including Gideon Swayne. His wife had taken her children to the swamp; her husband refused to join her. Her daughter, Desdemona, goes back to the camp because her lover remained, and got raped in the cotton fields, the current owner of Pope Plantation forced to participate.
A shootout occurs from both sides, but the battle is carried by mysterious slime figures of the swamp, acting independently. Most of the white sons die, as do many of the migrants. The story closes with Gideon the Overseer receiving a closely guarded secret from Enoch. He rescues a white survivor which stands him in good stead with the authorities. But the irony of him going scot-free when white men died, leads to his banishment from Old Mill to start over his life elsewhere.
This is a well written and well-crafted book, easily read. I liked the rippling of this passage: “There was a rush of energy— not wind, exactly, though it fanned the flames, but something that washed over him and heated his skin. He felt as if the flames ate at his skin from within, but it wasn’t pain, it was sensation. It wasn’t death, it was a birth, a new life, a thing he’d never imagined, and dreamed of every night of his life in some dark moment between lucidity and prayer But the above passage belies the fast pace with which the story is grippingly told.
One problem I has in the later part of the book was some confusion as to ‘who-was- who’ with the same names (Gideon and Desdemona) being handed down.
Divided into three parts, the story revolves around the Pope plantation in North Carolina. Gideon Swayne, the operational plantation manager, wishes to mind his own business but through a series of events he is plunged into the suspected murder of a young female migrant worker.
The novel then transports the reader back in time where they are introduced to a number of generational members of the Swayne family. His grandfather, a Christian minister, falls in love with a African-American woman who has deep ties to a supernatural way of life.
Overshadowing the narrative of the second part of the book is the manner in which the individuals of color are treated and who are considered less than human. An ultimate cruel and inhumane tragedy occurs.
The novel then fast forwards the reader to the present day where a surprise ending awaits along with the undead seeking their revenge.
Gideon's Curse by David Niall Wilson is novel that grabs the imagination, the heart and the senses of the reader and does not let go.
Mr. Wilson has managed to craft a fine tale blending fantasy and reality with finesse. All of the characters are believable, possibly a little 'caricaturish' in places, yet still appearing as people that we all have come across in our lives. Especially on social media, where we see more caricature these days than real people.
I loved Desdemona. Her passion, acceptance, strength and love really spoke to me. Gideon's ability to see past the end of the nose on his face was marvelous too. A characteristic so many of us are lacking in today's society.
I kept waiting for the book to get scary....but when it did, it certainly did.
The only thing keeping me from giving this book five stars is the presence of a couple of editing errors that threw me out of the flow of the story. Other than that, well done! Recommend!
Here is a story that succinctly captures the spirit of the Deep South just in the years following the end to slavery. Readers are introduced to a historical drama that will remind them of Richard Wright and other authors who have articulated brilliantly on the racial problem in the South. The story is lyrical, written to keep the readers' hands turning the pages and their eyes fixed on the magical words.