- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Pantheon (July 7, 2015)
For years Normandy Falls has been haunted by its strange history and the aggrieved spirits said to roam its graveyards. Despite warnings, Edmund Campion is determined to pursue an advanced degree there. But Edmund soon learns he isn’t immune to the impersonal trappings of fate: his girlfriend, Morgan Fey, smashes his heart; his adviser, Professor Martin Kingsley, crushes him with frivolous assignments; and his dead-end job begins to take a toll on his physical and mental health. One night he stumbles upon the body of Emily Ryan, an unapologetic townie, drowned in her family pool. Was it suicide or murder? In the days that follow, Emily’s husband, Charlie, crippled by self-loathing and frozen with fear, attempts to flee his disastrous life and sends their twin daughters to stay with the Kingsleys. Possessed by an unnamed, preternatural power, the twins know that the professor seduced their mother and may have had a hand in her fate. With their piercing stares, the girls fill Martin with a remorse that he desperately tries to hide from his wife. Elsewhere, a low-level criminal named the Gonk takes over a remote cottage, complete with a burial ground and moonshine still, and devises plans for both. Xavier D’Avignon, the eccentric chef of a failing French restaurant, supplies customers with a hallucinogenic cocktail. And Colette Collins, an elderly local artist of the surreal, attends a retrospective of her work that is destined to set the whole town on fire.
Kevin P. Keating’s masterly novel delves into the deepest recesses of the human capacity for evil.
The small town of Normandy Falls doesn’t have much going for it, locked in the Midwestern Rust Belt, Normandy Falls college and a fancy restaurant running as a front for a the chef who sells drugs are its main attractions. Edmund Campion decides to go to Normandy Falls College after his strict Jesuit schooling, even after a strict warning about the town from his teacher. Edmund quickly falls into the trap of Normandy Falls and his dreams are chewed up and spit out. He fails at his relationship with artist Morgan Fey, his is failing his assignments given to him by Professor Kingsley, he takes a dead end job at the College Maintenance facilities with a group called the Ticks and then he finds Professor Kingsley’s mistress drowned in a pool, an apparent suicide. Edmund soon finds out that Normandy Falls holds a great capacity for evil.
The first thing that I have to say about this book is that the prose is incredibly verbose with an immense vocabulary. This does wonders for setting the scene and definitely adds to the ominous tone, however, I was grateful that I read this on my Kindle so I could easily look up words. That being said, I didn’t dislike the challenge, but this is obviously not an easy read. This is a book you will want to sit with and be able to sink into. Once I was able to get into the story I was sucked in and thrown for a loop at the same time. The slow build of the story helped the feeling that something was wrong with this town, but without pinpointing just what it was. The point of view switches between several characters, which is fine once you are immersed into the story. Each of these characters isn’t particularly likeable, but each is a victim of Normandy Falls’ condition. Finding the truth behind Normandy Falls drew me in, much like Edmunds character.
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After working as a boilermaker in the steel mills in Ohio, KEVIN P. KEATING became a professor of English and began teaching at Baldwin Wallace University, Cleveland State University, and Lorain County Community College. His essays and stories have appeared in more than fifty literary journals, and his first novel, The Natural Order of Things, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes’ Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction. His second novel, The Captive Condition, will be released by Pantheon Books in July of 2015. He lives in Cleveland.
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