Saturday, October 24, 2015

Usher’s Passing, by Robert R. McCammon. Pocket Books, 1984

In this sequel to Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher”, McCammon proposes that not all of the Usher family died at the end of the story, that a brother lived on. And while the brother had the Usher Malady, he also had the power to attract good things to him And the family prospered, beyond all imagination. But the power did not come without strings attached; while materially blessed, the people of the family all have major problems.

Rix Usher is the family black sheep; he escaped the family estate and has had a career as an author, but now he finds himself with writer’s block. When his father sends the older son, Boone, to fetch him to his death bed, he decides to go, despite swearing he’d never go back. This places him in a veritable cornucopia of weirdness.

This is, bar none, the gothiest novel I have ever read. We have a southern mansion. We have a mother who refuses to accept that her husband is dying, even though he’s rotting away- literally. An alcoholic, gambling, wife beating, bully of an elder brother. A sister who has done exceedingly well in business as a model, but is a drug addict. A lodge in the middle of the family estate that no one lives in that Rix got shut into as a child for two long, dark, terrifying days; a building that changes its layout on a whim. Mountain folk just outside the estate who believe in the Mountain King (good guy) and the Pumpkin Man (very bad guy who steals children), and a huge black panther named Greediguts. There is the teenage mountain boy who finds he has supernatural powers. There is also the ruins of a town that was smashed apart years ago buy comets. A newspaper owner who wants to know what’s going on with the family patriarch and her father, writing a history of the Usher family. And then there is the soul voices of reason: the head caretaker and his wife, who basically raised Rix, the only people who showed him love when he was growing up.

There is a LOT going on in this book. Every time you turn around there is a new twist. Almost no one is what they seem. There is a mix of supernatural, technical, and human evil. Threat is everywhere. This is one of the creepiest books I’ve ever read, despite it being so over the top. And it is very, very, over the top. But, damn, I loved it! 

The above is an affiliate link. If you click through and buy something- anything- Amazon will give me a few cents. This in no way influenced my review. 

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