The Horror Zine Review
The Seeker (A Mystery at Waldon Pond)
by R. B. Chesterton
|Print Length: 352 pages
Publisher: Pegasus Books (March 4, 2014)
by R. B. Chesterton
Review by David Landrum
The Seeker is a book that often covers familiar ground, but there are still surprises there. Most people know the story of Walden, that classic of American Literature. Henry David Thoreau goes off to a small cabin in the woods to "live deliberately." He spends two years alone, growing his own food, contemplating nature, and writing about his experience.
But are we getting the whole story? Was Thoreau really alone when he lived at Walden?
Aine Cahill comes to Walden Pond and the town of Concord, Massachusetts, to write an academic discourse that suggests Thoreau was not alone. In fact, he had a mistress, and the mistress was a relative of hers. Aine has nothing to confirm what the journal asserts, but she hopes to find evidence for its truthfulness during her time at Concord, near Walden Pond.
Anie brings a lot of baggage with her to Walden. She has been born into a family that carries a curse. Years ago, the patriarch of the clan cursed God because his wife and children died in the famine in Ireland before he could rescue them. Since then, the family has been character by violence and brutality. In the past, they hunted whales, enjoying the violence involved in killing them; in piracy, smuggling, and bootlegging; and, after the family moves to Kentucky, moonshining and selling OxyCottin, a widely abused drug (rather like Meth).
Aine has been able to avoid the behavior of her kin through the efforts of her grandmother, who sends her away from the family property, gets her in a boarding school, and warns her not to become involved in the activities the family is known for—crime, drug dealing and, worse, communication with the dead.
She has found a journal that belongs to a long-dead relative named Bonnie. The journal alleges Bonnie was Henry David Thoreau's lover and lived with him at Walden Pond. Aine wants to write a Ph.D. dissertation on this relationship. Her work, if validated, would shatter the image of Thoreau as the contemplative, monk-like recluse who never married and lived a virginal life that substituted a relationship with nature for a relationship with a wife.
Soon, however, bizarre events unfold. She sees a mysterious child who leaves dolls for her and, once, lures into the wood around Walden Pond. Aine almost dies from cold but is eventually saved. The child, however, does not go away. Aine falls in love with Joe, whose life has been ruined by an accusation of murder. Joe's ex-girlfriend, Karla, attacks Aine and is later found murdered. Other acts of violence follow. Joe was once accused of murdering a young girl named Mischa, and this wrecked his life, even though the charge was never proved. Mischa is still around, Aine finds, but is not the child Joe was accused of murdering.
Rather, she is a spirit—a treacherous, devious creature of evil who is bent on the destruction, or the possession, of Aine, and who seems to incarnate the curse on the Cahill family. As Aine realizes this, she is drawn into conflict with the demon-girl. She thinks she has a good chance of overcoming her, but the evil child has lots of angles to play, is deceptive, and treacherously resourceful. Aine is in for the fight of her life—and it is her life that is at stake—her life and soul.
The Seeker is a compelling read. It takes Chesterton a while to set up the plot, especially since the plot involves elements related to Thoreau, Walden, and Concord. But soon, it becomes absorbing. The deathly conflict between Aine and Mischa intensifies to a dazzling and heartbreaking end. Evil and good fight. It may be that neither wins a clear victory. But it is an exciting fight.
You can buy the book HERE
About the author
R. B. Chesterton
Carolyn Haines is the author of over 70 books in a number of genres. For her darker stories, she writes as R.B. Chesterton. She grew up in a family that told ghost stories and has always loved the chill of a good book that takes her on a visit to a house where the shadows hide past secrets or a town where the residents are not who they seem to be. She has been awarded the Harper Lee Award for Distinguished Writing and the Richard Wright Award for Literary Excellence. Along with writing stories and pranking her friends, she teaches fiction writing at an Alabama university and is founder of Good Fortune Farm Refuge, a 501c3 rescue. She cares for 22 dogs, cats, and horses. Find out more HERE
About the reviewer
David W. Landrum teaches Literature at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. His book reviews have appeared in Raintown Review, The Lamp-Post, and Journal of Christianity and Literature; his academic writing in Philological Quarterly, Seventeenth-Century Literature, Mosaic, Italian Quarterly and Texas Studies in Language and Literature. He also writes horror and paranormal!