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Eileen Winton was in New Orleans for the funeral of her best friend Roxanne Petry husband Jim. Roxane’s family is steeped in the Creole tradition and Eileen feels out of her realm. Roxanne becomes hysterical when she over hears someone say her beloved husband killed himself. She has asked Eileen to stay with her and give her moral support. Eileen agrees because she can see her friend is falling apart. During her stay Roxanne’s Grandmother, Claire try to get Eileen to leave because they fear her company isn’t good for Roxanne. Quite the opposite is true! Eileen helps Roxanne become the mistress of her home. On a night when Roxanne and Eileen are talking Roxanne reviles to Eileen she believes Jim was murdered.
Bart and Dave are Jim’s brothers who are always at odds. Bart has warmed to Eileen but Dave is warning her to leave. Why? Strange things start to happen to Eileen. She feels she is being followed and strange accidents start to happen as she tries to see if Jim was murdered and by whom. What will she uncover and at what cost?
I was eager to read this book when I received it from NetGalley. I mean the description sounds good, right? I also liked the cover. However, it took me quite a few tries before I could get past the first paragraph. The prologue put me off since it mentioned something to do with stars (astrology). I don’t believe in astrology and was a bit surprised that this aspect of the book was left out of the description. I mean, I don’t have an issue with paranormal but I don’t get astrology and I really know nothing about it so this scared me a bit because I wasn’t sure that I would enjoy the story.
Anyway, I finally got around to reading Fear Stalks the Bayou by Juanita Coulson and was pleasantly surprised. The writing is quite beautiful and I found myself drawn to the narrative. I loved the setting of New Orleans and the description of all the attractions. I liked the fact that the main character was sort of a tourist in the city so as a reader; I was able to experience New Orleans through her eyes. The addition of art added to the richness of description of the setting. I also liked the huge, old, creepy mansion where the characters lived. This mansion added to the mystery of the book.
I think the characters were likeable and believable. Eileen seems like the kind of friend that everyone needs. Roxanne is relatable and sympathetic as we get to see her go through her grief. The two brothers, Bart and Dave are so different but this adds to the suspense of the book. It was interesting to see how they took to Eileen and how she responded to them in turn. I really liked the ‘snobbish’ grandmother, Claire. She was the perfect fit in the story adding to the intrigue of the narrative. She is easy to dislike but she made things a whole lot interesting.
There are hints of some supernatural happenings. One of the characters, Lucrece who is a servant in the mansion believes in dark magic and voodoo. She is Creole and her physical description and overall mannerism was so creepy. It made me wonder if she was using some dark magic to cause the events at the mansion. One thing that really bugged me though is how she was referred to as The Creole almost throughout the narration. I mean, her name had already been given so I didn’t get that bit unless there is something special about Creoles that made that description necessary.
This is more of a mystery novel than a psychological thriller. It will keep you guessing trying to figure out what happened to Jim. Did he kill himself or was he murdered? The events taking place also adds to the suspense. There are instances whereby it seemed like Eileen was being stalked and this made me look forward to figuring out who was stalking her and why.
Fear Stalks the Bayou by Juanita Coulson is not a fast-paced read but it was atmospheric which made it easy to read. As I mentioned, the setting was great and the old mansion added to the creepiness of the narrative. I also liked the description of the dark, gloomy weather which was perfect for the mystery. This all added to the eerie atmosphere of book hence making it an interesting read.
I was also able to figure out the villain quite early in the book which took away some suspense although it was interesting to figure out the why. I feel like the whole astrological angle was unnecessary. It confused me because I didn’t understand what it was all about. I mean, I read the book and was pretty satisfied with the conclusion only to turn to the next page and see an epilogue about stars and astrology. Perhaps my disinterest in the topic is what bugged me about the whole angle but otherwise; this was a pretty solid mystery novel. Again, I think the fact that I didn’t know that this was a gothic mystery beforehand also affected my perception of this astrology angle. I just didn’t get how astrology fit into the story.
I recommend this book to fans of mystery novels. The book is also described as a gothic, romantic mystery so if you like this genre then this one will suit you. If you are also into astrology then you may enjoy this book.
I received this book form NetGalley in exchange of an honest opinion.
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