This was good, very creepy and hard to put down. I tried reading Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain a year or two ago, and his habit of writing dialogue proceeded by a hyphen instead of using quotation marks made me so crazy I couldn’t get very far. I know that’s a stupid complaint, but books that have formatting that I’m not used to end up distracting me to the point of un-readability. Nightwoods has dialogue written the same way, but there’s so little of it that it’s hardly a distraction. And the story is so compelling that I just couldn’t stop reading it.
“Claim your space. Draw a circle of light around it. Push back against the dark. Don’t just survive. Celebrate.”
Set in the 1960s in North Carolina, Nightwoods is about a single woman in her 30s who suddenly inherits her sister’s two kids. Luce lives as a caretaker of an estate in the mountains, doing as much as she can to avoid other people as they’ve brought her nothing but trouble. After her sister is murdered by her husband, their twin children (a boy and a girl, around 10 years old) are brought to Luce. The children witnessed the murder, and as a result, they barely speak or make eye contact. Wrapped into their own little twin world, they act practically feral around anyone else. Luce does what she can to help them, all the while unaware that her ex-brother-in-law has been hunting them down.
It’s a taut, tightly written book. Action mixed with Luce’s internal monologue and the occasional flashback. The murderous ex is a good, creepy bad guy. I found the story a bit hard to follow at times, when Frazier would suddenly dive into a flashback, or switch characters without any kind of introduction, but you get used to it and it all makes sense in the end. And his writing, especially regarding Luce’s life in the mountains, is down right beautiful at times. I may have to try Cold Mountain again…