Michael McDowell
– The Elementals –

After a bizarre and disturbing incident at the funeral of matriarch Marian Savage, the McCray and Savage families look forward to a restful and relaxing summer at Beldame, on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, where three Victorian houses loom over the shimmering beach. Two of the houses are habitable, while the third is slowly and mysteriously being buried beneath an enormous dune of blindingly white sand. But though long uninhabited, the third house is not empty. Inside, something deadly lies in wait. Something that has terrified Dauphin Savage and Luker McCray since they were boys and which still haunts their nightmares. Something horrific that may be responsible for several terrible and unexplained deaths years earlier – and is now ready to kill again…


It literally rises before my eyes – my spirit…
This tomb, which I enter with the first page; into which I descend – no yawning emptiness, no everything devouring darkness…
Greedy grey; the forgotten eyes that await me from the cracks of time…
Eternity has taught them, that they’ve not to lurk, they only have to wait…

Classical modernity – that seems the simplest and fastest way to describe The Elementals.
In terms of content it’s a classic Gothic Novel what’s waiting here; horror, goosebumps and silence – this all-drowned out silence…
Stylistically, however, McDowells work is quite modern; the language and the setting are conceived in a beautiful intermediate dimension: you simply see yourself there, you’re simply part of an apparent timelessness.
This mixture of thoughtful language and timeless Southern Gothic materializes in front of my eyes and becomes a chamber-play that I experience less than I attend:
no dragging, tearing or pulling – a bedding in the swaths of inevitability.

So it seems, that even the protagonists aren’t arise from McDowells mind, but are conjured out of an exalted grotesque; especially in the beginning you’ll find a wonderful game between the eccentricity of existence and the swaying malevolence of the presence.
This bizarreness, however, doesn’t degenerate into an overacted mockery, but literally outgrow itself – as if slipping out of a cocoon, this obligatory tribulation spreads its wings over me and cautiously embeds me in the shadows of reminiscence: in fact McDowell has made me be a child again; has brought back a part of my memory, when I sank into the gloom of Edgar Allen Poe for the first time…

So it’s less that tranquility breeds strength, but fear – the horror which doesn’t seems to haunt me, but I hunt it, the fright which rests consciously in the sand of time, which rises before me as a concave dune wall, conscious of its unnatural eternity…

No, The Elementals isn’t a book for in between, it’s not a classic Haunted-House novel and won’t quench any sensational bloodthirst – it’s the rigid gaze in your neck, that eats its way into fear, the lurking in the shadows, that you’ve been trying to escape since childhood, the superlative quietness, that bewails from silence!

With The Elementals McDowell has taken Gothic Fiction to extremes: the whole novel lives – literally breathes the shell air of the unspoken, bleeds the immortal rot of persistence…

…and waits.



McDowell, Michael - The Elementals


Michael McDowell
1. Edition
220 pages
(also available as eBook)




Written by:

Down the biggest sheeeee-it of Splatterpunk, up the highest castles of Fantasy, riding through the universe on top of Cthulhu... fer Gawd’s sake, I love to read!

Be First to Comment

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.