Those Across the River

Those Across the River - Christopher Buehlman *Sigh*. This book had such great potential and loads of missed opportunities.

It follows a couple, Frank and Eudora, moving to a small town in the Depression-era South. Frank has inherited a house and land that stretches back generations and he travels there to write what he hopes to be a bestseller about the violent history of his great grandfather's slave plantation that lies in the mysterious woods across the river. Soon, after arriving, the town is terrorized by...dunh dunh dunh! Those Across The River!

The novel begins in a very similar way to [b:'Salem's Lot|17288638|'Salem's Lot|Stephen King||3048937], with no major action happening until about halfway through both books, instead focusing on the going-ons around the small town. But while Stephen King's novel took this time to really get to know the small town so that when the horror happens to the community, it's truly affecting, Buehlman's novel spends a large chunk of its time with Frank's mostly unnecessary dreams about his time in war and the couple's extremely healthy sex life. They literally make hot, sweaty, love every other chapter! Now, I'm no prude; I love sex just like everyone else and would love to have it all day like this couple, but I don't care about reading it when I should be reading about things that truly develop the story. And I may be biased about dream sequences, because I rarely think they work very well in stories, but for the life of me, I still can't figure out what they had to do with the story in any way. I mean, I guess they developed Frank's character a little, but maybe I could've just read one, not FIFTEEN repetitive dreams! Most of those pages that featured sex and dreams could've been used for something more useful.

I won't spoil what lies beyond the river, but the time spent building the suspense was effective and creepy, and once the action kicks off, it's at times very exciting, but eventually, it feels like Buehlman just ran out of steam and couldn't figure out how to finish it. A true, satisfying climax is missing! A great build-up of what lies across the river, and then the potential just peters out. The great character of Martin Cramner has SOOO much potential for interesting ideas and scenes, and nothing much happens with him either! Again, this book really had many chances to be great, and they were either flubbed in the messy storytelling or hijacked by hot sex or dreams of trench warfare.