When New York journalist and recently bereaved mother Charlotte “Charlie” Cates begins to experience vivid dreams about children she’s sure that she’s lost her mind. Yet these are not the nightmares of a grieving parent, she soon realizes. They are messages and warnings that will help Charlie and the children she sees, if only she can make sense of them.
After a little boy in a boat appears in Charlie’s dreams asking for her help, Charlie finds herself entangled in a thirty-year-old missing-child case that has never ceased to haunt Louisiana’s prestigious Deveau family. Armed with an invitation to Evangeline, the family’s sprawling estate, Charlie heads south, where new friendships and an unlikely romance bring healing. But as she uncovers long-buried secrets of love, money, betrayal, and murder, the facts begin to implicate those she most wants to trust—and her visions reveal an evil closer than she could’ve imagined.
What I Thought:
What an atmospheric book! I love books that are able to strongly evoke their setting and The Gates of Evangeline certainly does that. Small-town Louisiana is painted in as hot and cloying a light as TV would have me believe, but it does not all come from the humidity. The historic Deveau family are all at once close-knit and backstabbing, with a declining matriarch who might not be quite as gripped by dementia as she seems.
Charlie Cates is a likeable heroine, who has been through what no parent ever should, and carries her grief with dignity and a sense of her wanting to move on, but not knowing where to start. It’s interesting to see her move through her grief to a place of acceptance and start looking forward, always accompanied by her son, but not so disabled by the memory of what she has lost.
As a thriller, The Gates of Evangeline works well, there are what seem to be obvious solutions to the mystery, but they are twisted to create a whole other scenario and it is paced very well, not revealing anything too soon. This is the first in a series of Charlie Cates books, the second of which is due out next year – I’ll definitely be looking out for it.
I was sent a copy of the book by the publisher (Century) in return for an honest review.