By Charles Frazier
Completed September 26, 2011
Charles Frazier is a dynamic writer. His sentences are beautifully crafted, conjuring up images that put the reader right into the story. His first book, Cold Mountain, was nothing short of phenomenal. When his second book, Thirteen Moons, was released several years ago, I began reading it with eagerness – only to stop midway, disappointed with the plot and characters. So, when Nightwoods became available, I wanted to give Frazier another try. People have sophomore slumps, and I was hoping that was the case for this talented writer.
Nightwoods is the story of Luce, a young woman whose personal life was marked by tragedy and bad family relationships. She agrees to become the caretaker of an old, abandoned lodge in the North Carolina mountains – a place where she can be alone and away from people who inevitably hurt her. Tragically, Luce’s sister was murdered, and the state wants to place her sister’s twins into Luce’s care. When the twins arrive, Luce knows she has her work cut out for her. The twins, Dolores and Frank, won’t say a word and have a liking to starting fires. Luce, once alone and carefree, must now accept her fate as a guardian of very troubled children.
Luce’s situation is compounded when her sister’s husband (and murderer) arrives in town, looking for money that he believes Luce is in possession of. Bud is a no-good, violent man, and Luce knows he’ll stop at nothing to get what he wants.
Frazier’s superb writing style is in full force throughout Nightwoods. The reader gets a look at North Carolina mountain life – the good, bad and ugly. Unfortunately, I felt Frazier went to some extremes with his characters, especially the twins and their adventure during the last chapters of the book. As a fan of character-driven stories, this was a disappointment for me. But I am happy that Frazier seems to be on his game again, as Nightwoods is certainly a better story than Thirteen Moons.
So if you loved Cold Mountain like me, go ahead and get a copy of Nightwoods. Know it’s not perfect – but sit back and lavish in the wonderful writing of Charles Frazier. ( )
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.