10/09/2013 06:18 pm ET Updated Dec 09, 2013

Cassandra King Goes Southern Gothic With MOONRISE

Book Review Jackie K Cooper
MOONRISE by Cassandra King

Cassandra King's latest effort is a modern day southern gothic novel. Now writing a modern day gothic story is a little daunting especially when you want to fill it with overtones of Daphne du Maurier and perhaps even a little Victoria Holt. But MOONRISE touches all the right notes to make it a suspenseful story and also a romantic one. Kudos to Ms King for getting it right.

Helen Honeycutt is the main focus of this story. A divorcee with a son, she meets the larger than life Emmet Justice, a TV news journalist. Emmet is recently widowed and he has moved from North Carolina to Florida to recharge his life. It is there he meets Helen who has a cooking show at the same television station where he has found employment. Inexplicably they have a whirlwind courtship and get married.

This wedding does not sit well with his close circle of friends back in Highlands, North Carolina. They adored his wife Rosalyn and are still in their mourning period. When Emmet and Helen decide to spend their summer at the family estate, Moonrise, the "friends" are not happy. Having Helen in Rosalyn's home is shocking to them.

King deftly navigates the story from different vantage points and gives a full description of the plot as it develops. We learn how Helen is spooked by actions in the large house, even going so far as to suspect Rosalyn's ghost of walking the halls. We also get a perspective of how the friends regard her and what their main grievances against her are.

King's best asset is her ability to create a glowing array of characters in this story. We see how Helen's timidity makes her appear weak to Emmet's friends. We see how Emmet's pomposity is his own worst enemy in his relationship with Helen. We see how Emmet's friend Tansy is so quirky and full of herself that she can't relate to Helen. And these characterizations go on and on. They are so full and so rich that the reader does not want to lose track of any of these characters when the book ends. Sequel anyone?

This is King's first novel since QUEEN OF BROKEN HEARTS was published in 2006 and her popular writing style has been missed. She has always been able to create heart-warming stories that play to the reader's emotions and intelligence and with MOONRISE she continues that tradition. This is a story that impacts the reader, and its mixture of emotions will linger long after you have closed the book.

MOONRISE is published by Maiden Lane Press. It contains 400 pages and sells for $26.95.

Jackie K Cooper

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