Horrible Monday: Cherie Priest’s Those Who Went Remain There Still

fantasy book reviews Cherie Priest Dreadful Skin, Fathom, Those Who Went Remain There Still, The Boneshaker, The ClementineThose Who Went Remain There Still by Cherie PriestThose Who Went Remain There Still by Cherie Priest

Those Who Went Remain There Still is a short Southern Gothic horror novel by Cherie Priest which I listened to in audio format. The story follows two plotlines told in alternating chapters. One is excerpts from Daniel Boone’s Reflections Upon the Wilderness Road which he wrote while leading a group of trailblazers across Kentucky. Every night, Boone and his men are being stalked, picked off, and eaten by a huge bird-like monster.

The second plotline follows the history of Daniel Boone’s descendants in the rural Kentucky area where Boone met the monster. They’re an inbred, ignorant and nasty lot that’s been split into two feuding families. A couple of the family members from each side manage to “escape” by running away, eventually acquiring some education, and progressing to a new standard of living. Each is called home years later when the family patriarch dies and leaves a will which must be searched for in a nearby cave. Here the two plotlines converge.

Priest’s story is unsettling from the start when we read the first entry in Daniel Boone’s Reflections Upon the Wilderness Road as he describes his men’s encounters with the bird monster. At first he reports only cursory images of the thing but as the story continues, we get more sensory details and it gets more frightening. At the end we meet the monster face to face and by this point Priest has complete control over our mental imagery so that everything it does, even the smallest bird-like movement of its head, is disturbing. When Boone’s narrative is over, we assume we’re done with monsters, but no, it only gets more horrifying.

It’s not just the monster that’s unsettling. The two families who descended from Daniel Boone could populate the cast of Deliverance. They are vividly portrayed and utterly odious. Besides Daniel Boone, who we only know through his journal entries and later as a ghost, the only characters who are remotely likable are the two who left Kentucky and even they’re hard to fully endorse since they abandoned their families and wouldn’t have come back if it hadn’t been for the will.

Those Who Went Remain There Still was my first exposure to Cherie Priest’s work and I was impressed. Her writing is vivid, well-paced, and she has a great ear. She has spent most of her life in the Southeast and attended college and graduate school in Tennessee, which probably explains her authentic voice.

Those Who Went Remain There Still is an excellent example of Southern Gothic. I highly recommend the audio version produced by Audible Frontiers and read by Marc Vietor and Eric Michael Summerer. The narrators are both spot-on with their Southern Gothic voices and this is one of those cases where I felt that the audio version might be even better than print. It’s a brilliant performance. You can listen to a sample at Amazon or Audible.

Those Who Went Remain There Still — (2008) Publisher: Heaster Wharton is dead, and his passing might mean an end to hostilities between the Manders and the Coys. If the the elderly patriarch showed the kindness and foresight to split his land cleanly between his feuding descendants, then a truce could be arranged. But his final request is a strange one, delivered across the country to the straggling remnants of his tribe. Representatives from both families must visit a cave at the edge of his property in the hills of Kentucky. There, he promised, they would find his last will and testament. But there’s more than paperwork waiting underground, as vindictive old Heaster was well aware. In 1775, Daniel Boone and a band of axe-wielding frontiersmen struggled to clear a path through the Cumberland Gap into the heart of Bluegrass country, and they did not work unopposed. Hounded and harried by an astonishing monster, the axe-men overcame the beast by sheer numbers and steel. They threw its body into a nearby cave. It was not dead. And now, it is not alone. Crippled and outraged, for 100 years something terrible has huddled underground, dreaming of meat and revenge. But its newest callers are heavily armed, skeptical of their instructions, and predisposed to violence. With their guns and their savage instincts, Heaster’s grandchildren will not make for easy pickings.

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KAT HOOPER is a professor at the University of North Florida where she teaches neuroscience, psychology, and research methods courses. She occasionally gets paid to review scientific textbooks, but reviewing speculative fiction is much more fun. Kat lives with her husband and their children in Jacksonville Florida.

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2 comments

  1. I read Boneshaker about a year ago and liked it, but didn’t love it. Frankly, I didn’t realize she had written anything but steampunk until your review. Thanks Kat. I’ll going to pick up the ebook.

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  1. If you fall when we march forth : Cherie Priest - [...] And here’s the second one – Courtesy of the folks at FantasyLiterature.com. Choice quote: “I highly recommend the audio …

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