Monday, December 03, 2007

Book Souls: Garden of Darkness by Anne Frasier

(Every book has a soul. Something which defines its message, its focus, the reason for its creation. Today's soul searching guest is Anne Frasier's latest novel, GARDEN OF DARKNESS, release date December 4, 2007.)



What does it mean to be haunted?

Most people think of houses. Most people think of creaking stairs, apparitions, and babies crying in empty cribs.

I think hauntings are relationships, an interplay of two forces. On the one hand, there is the paranormal element. Someone or something which is compelled to remain. On other hand, there someone reaching out and pulling the past into the present. Like the proverbial tree falling unheard in the forest, without the haunted, the haunting cannot exist.

In Garden of Darkness, Anne Frasier continues the story of Tuonela, Wisconsin, where 100 years ago, mass hysteria and murders swirled around a dark leader suspected of being a vampire. The victims still move through the present day town on a whispering wind. Perhaps that's why the residents can never leave. Like growing up with the sound of the ocean or the wind through mountain trees, the voices imprint on the townspeople. To leave would be to miss an integral part of themselves.

Rachel Burton hears the Tuonela dead more strongly than most. She is the town's medical examiner, and the murders have begun again. Here, as she performs an autopsy on the latest body, she listens to the undercurrents beneath the hum of the exhaust fan:

She hated the fan.

Sometimes when it ran she heard voices buried below the din. Like a roomful of people talking and mumbling, their words indistinct. Just an audio illusion that had to do with the unnatural harmonics and white noise.

You let us in.

That's what the people seemed to be saying. Or had those faraway voices always existed, and the continuous roar and hum of the fan somehow opened a door?

Sh, sh, sh.

Rachel forced her thoughts away from the fan and the murmur.

She heard a movement behind her, but when she looked nothing was there.


Anne Frasier writes haunted characters, but they are not passive, running from fright to fright. They play a vital role in the threats against them. Just as your shadow is part of you, the evil tip-toeing behind Anne's characters must be there. Darkness is an essential energy of their existence.

That's what the soul of Garden of Darkness is to me. A bridge between tragedies. The living and the dead thrust out their hands to grasp each other. They all may be destroyed, or they may be saved. The only thing we know is that they will do so together.

Anne has been in the process of moving into an old, renovated church and has not been around the internet much, but you can still stop by her blog, Static, and wish her well on her new release. And the next time you're in a book store, be sure to pick up a copy!

16 comments:

Julie said...

Just out of interest,
there are genuine stories of ergot mould poisening affecting whole communities in bizarre ways in the past.

Bernita said...

Well put, Jason!
I especially like her description of the voices.
Well done, Anne!

Jaye Wells said...

Thank you for reminding me this was coming out. I need something new and have been looking forward to this book for a while. Yay, Anne!

Wayne said...

Over here! Big fan over here! Hey everybody, did you see me? I'm the big fan!!!

Billy said...

I think you've got as good an explanation as any and one I've always subscribed to--an interplay of two forces, such as past and present. I favor the idea of something that "remains" for any number of reasons and interacts with present characters, situations, or places. Tension!

Sarah Hina said...

I see you, Wayne. ;)

"The living and the dead thrust out their hands to grasp each other."

I love that sentiment. It's what I feel when reading your cemetery series. The quiet melancholy of a shared humanity, and a shared fate.

I have not read Anne's work, but enjoyed this scene quite a bit. A palpable whisper beneath the roar.

anne frasier said...

ah, jason. thank you so much. you managed to beautifully convey my story while also making it sound much more interesting than i'm afraid it really is. ;) not that i mind!!!

without the haunted, the haunting cannot exist.


love that line, because it's such a simple and painful truth.

Ello said...

That was a great review because you made me want to go and buy it right away!

jason evans said...

Julie, that's intriguing! I'm assuming the mold produces a toxin. What was the most common form of contamination?

Bernita, so exciting to see another title out!

Jaye, it's a good one. Those lost souls are not to be messed with. ;)

Wayne, then spread the word, my friend! It's time to mobilize the troups.

Billy, thanks. This concept is so strong in Anne's books. I can think of a stronger tie to a haunting. These characters are the only ones who are destined to be there.

Sarah, that's so kind of you to say! I tend to take my role for granted, but it's nice to think that I'm playing an integral part in that convergence of past and present.

Anne, you're very welcome! I've always said there's a unique quality to your viewpoint. I'm just trying to put it into words.

Ello, thanks! I'm going to buy a couple for my friends too. :)

SzélsőFa said...

I like the duality-concept, the idea that good and bad go together. It would make an interesting read for sure.

Julie said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ergot

Rye fungus - could hit entire communities from one baker. Long forgotten episode of
Quincy dealt with it.

Thanks for the lightning link. Priceless. You might find checking out DSM IV (psych data) gives you further insight re this post.

Beth said...

I am still looking for my Anne Rice replacement. I miss my vampire reads, but most are so horrid, they don't make it out of the library for me. That's it, I'm going to start reading this author.

Angela said...

Will definitely have to add this one to my winter reading list. You know, my old house creaks and groans at night and the forced water heating system gurgles and gulps and runs constantly. I am always hearing voices through all that sound. I wonder about them. :)

Vesper said...

Beautiful review, Jason. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on what looks like a very good novel.

jason evans said...

Szelsofa, Anne's novels have a unique feel to them. I do recommend them.

Julie, so the contamination was through baked goods! Sometimes I'm amazed how our species got this far. So easy to wipe us out.

Beth, Anne's Frasier's Pale Immortal/Garden of Darkness pair isn't typical vampire literature. It's more human, if that makes sense. I think you'd enjoy it nonetheless.

Angela, those noises do take on a sinister feel, don't they? ;)

Vesper, thanks. :) Hopefully, my take on book reviews is a little different.

Vesper said...

very well-said!

lovely!