Bram Stoker® Nominee Peter N. Dudar has written an intriguing tale; one that captures the nebulous essence of a ghost story, interweaves it with a mystery, and tops it off with a surprising twist ending.
The story opens with Les McCauley reminiscing about Battle View Farm, the family homestead where Grandmother Vivian and Grandpa Clyde lived, and the summer he and his brother Gordon spent a tumultuous couple of months following their mother’s miscarriage. Les is in a mental institution and the story he tells flips between the summer he was thirteen, his early twenties and today.
Gordon McCauley decides to remain on the family farm upon Grandmother Vivian’s death. Gordon wants to build a still and brew bourbon — and talks Les into staying on. While there, the brothers discover the farm is haunted. Maybe it was always haunted. Memories abound; Grandmother Vivian conversing with flies; mysterious messages appearing on the kitchen table told in their dead fly exoskeletons and dark secrets unearthed. The boys develop a secret language to help them cope with the ever increasing insanity that consumes the house and try to stay out of the way as much as possible. Secrets are discovered and unfold one at a time, like petals of a flower revealing a depth of storytelling reminiscent of Stephen King or Andrew Davidson.
Dudar shines with his seamless time period changes and his flawless perspective shifts keep the reader on track. There is no getting lost re-reading passages to figure out who is speaking or what year the reader is in. Although it looks easy, this is not a simple task. But Dudar makes it flow and the tale continues while the reader follows along meandering with the prose and the story, getting lost in the description and the craziness that consumes the farm, and eventually, the brothers.