Author: Joyce Carol Oates, 2013.
Genre: Period Fiction. 1900s New England. Gothic Horror. Post Modern.
Other Details: Hardback. 669 pages. Unabridged Audiobook (22 hours, 54 mins). Read by Grover Gardner.
This eerie tale of psychological horror sees the real inhabitants of turn-of-the-century Princeton fall under the influence of a supernatural power.
New Jersey, 1905: soon-to-be commander-in-chief Woodrow Wilson is president of Princeton University. On a nearby farm, Socialist author Upton Sinclair, enjoying the success of his novel ‘The Jungle’, has taken up residence with his family. This is a quiet, bookish community – elite, intellectual and indisputably privileged. But when a savage lynching in a nearby town is hushed up, a horrifying chain of events is initiated – until it becomes apparent that the families of Princeton have been beset by a powerful curse. The Devil has come to this little town and not a soul will be spared. - synopsis from UK Publisher's website.
Given its length, style and density this is a quite challenging read though I found it a rewarding one. I wanted to take my time with it and so choose to both listen to its unabridged audio edition and read the print version. I don't feel that it is a novel that will appeal to everyone and this is borne out by the range of reviews on Goodreads and the like. However, it was well received in the critical reviews I read.
In terms of its cover art, I felt both were very evocative though the US one seems to stress its historical element while the UK one highlights the supernatural themes.