Sunday, March 05, 2017

The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young

I'm a little late in reading Hester Young's compelling debut novel, The Gates of Evangeline. At least I don't have time to forget about her intriguing character, Charlotte "Charlie" Cates. I already own the second book, The Shimmering Road. Let me introduce you to Charlotte.

Charlie Cates is thirty-seven, a journalist, divorced. At fourteen, she was taken in by her grandmother after her parents' deaths. But those deaths did not tear Charlie apart. It was the sudden death of her son, Keegan, not yet three, that left her with sleepless nights. And, those nights bring back a "gift" she had as a child. Now, though, Charlie is even more aware that in her dreams there's a young boy named Jo-Jo, somewhere in a swamp, begging her for help. And, when a former boss asks her to take on an assignment, writing about the disappearance of a young boy years earlier, Charlie knows it's her opportunity to write a book, help that young boy, and maybe help herself.

The Deveau kidnapping was THE crime of the '80s. Gabriel Deveau was only two when he disappeared from his locked bedroom on the Evangeline plantation. Now, Gabriel's mother is dying, and his two older sisters asked that someone writes the story. As Charlotte tries to find her way, interviewing family members, doing research, she finds more than friendship with the handsome Texan landscaper working on the gardens. But, it's her dreams that still demand answers, including, now, the dream of a dying young girl. For some reason, all of those dreams are centered right where she is now, in Louisiana.

The Gates of Evangeline is an intense story, one that builds to an unexpected climax. It's atmospheric, and menacing. But, it's Charlie and her character that drive this story. She's complex, certainly flawed, and haunted, by her own loss, and by her dreams of children. While the few people who know about them see her dreams as a gift from God, Charlie disagrees. "I'm not an instrument of God, just some woman plagued with bad dreams." She's a woman who changes in the course of the story, from a judgmental eastern sophisticate to someone who truly cares about others, their emotions and feelings, and tries to understand them. After finding a family whose story is based on lies, Charlie finally has to decide how she's going to build her future.

Hester Young's debut novel, The Gates of Evangeline, is polished and dramatic, a fascinating story of a troubled family, and Charlotte Cates, a troubled woman sent to investigate.

Hester Young's website is

The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young. G. P. Putnam's Sons. 2015. ISBN 9780425283172 (paperback), 425p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I bought my copy of the book.


Kay said...

I read this one last year and really liked it. I'm planning on reading the 2nd in the trilogy (think she said it would be a trilogy) soon. This book had quite a Gothic feel to it, for me anyway. Afterwards, as I was reporting about it on my blog, I said the 2nd would be located in Arizona and I was trying to imagine 'Gothic Arizona'. Ha! Think you said Hester Young would be on the panel you're moderating - hope all goes well!

Lesa said...

Hi, Kay! I'm glad you agreed with me that it had a Gothic feel. I mentioned it on #AskaLibrarian the other day when someone asked for modern Gothics. I hesitated, so I'm happy to know you feel the same. The second one starts out in Texas, but I know most of it is set in Tucson. Yes, I'll let you know if it's "Gothic Arizona" or not. "Ha!" is right. Thank you! Yes, she's on the panel. Did I tell you it's opposite the one I most wanted to see on the weekend? Darn. I'll get to see Craig Johnson on something else, but I wanted to see him with Cara Black as moderator, and he's bringing Al Martinez from "Longmire". Darn.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...