Saturday, September 16, 2017

Book Review: 'Gideon's Curse' by David Niall Wilson


North Carolina author David Niall Wilson, originally from Illinois, spent time in the US Navy as an Electronics Technician "A" school, ‘learned guitar, got engaged, unengaged, taught Bible School, got excommunicated, and moved on to San Diego, California once again as part of the crew of the USS Paul F. Foster, lived in Rota, Spain for three years, and retired in Norfolk, Virginia and is now the IT Manager and Facility Security Officer for a company in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.’ He has published copious novels and short stories and is the recipient of awards (The Bram Stoker Award for poetry), is President of the Horror Writer's Association, is an active member of both SFWA and the International Thriller Writer's Association as well as CEO of Crossroad Press.

Impressive credentials for a writer who has specialized in horror stories – of course, that genre is one of the most popular escapisms for the irreparably chaotic world we all inhabit at present. It is refreshing to see why David shares his biographical data so freely. He is a guitarist and he is a poet, a trait that spills over most pages of this lyrical tale of the world gone wrong for most of his characters. In a fine dedication David states the important background for this novel: ‘The things that are happening in the political climate of our country, contrasted with the too-similar events of Frederick Douglass’ amazing life, gave me a new appreciation and perspective. I think I did the time period justice. I hope I did. I hope, also, that this book shows my hope that things can get better, side-by-side with my understanding that we have not progressed as far as most of us believe. That said, this book is dedicated to the men and women who lived, loved, and died in the cotton fields of North Carolina. To the notion that race, gender, religious beliefs and bigotry cannot be allowed to separate men and women from one another. I dedicate this book to Frederick Douglass, and those who have fought for equality and freedom since time immemorial. And zombies... because I said I’d never write a zombie novel.’

Ad so the story is outlined as follows; ‘Just after the Civil War, a preacher named Gideon Swayne journeyed south from Random, Illinois to minister to the newly freed slaves. In the bitter prejudice of North Carolina, and the magic of the Great Dismal Swamp, he made a home... that home was taken from him in hatred, and in violence. The Pope plantation is mired in the "old ways," migrants work their land so they don't have to get their hands too dirty. There are older ways than the Pope family, built on slave-labor and mired in their own past can imagine. Their farm hand, Gideon has seen his mother’s reflection in the slime-pools of the bog. He’s heard his great-grandfather, the first Gideon at Preacher’s Marsh, chanting on the night breeze. He has seen eyes, glowing green and glittering with hatred, lining the trees along the fields and peering from the trees. He has heard voices like drumbeats chanting in the night. The dead are rising, and they are coming. Soon.’

Tense, terse and terrifying, David has composed yet another gripping novel that carries with it some very important reiterations of history to which we should all absorb. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, June 17




Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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