THE LEG­END OF THE AL­BINO FARM

Foreword Reviews - - Foresight Fantasy -

Steve Yates, Un­bri­dled Books Soft­cover $16 (224pp), 978-1-60953-140-9

Fam­ily myth and su­per­sti­tion min­gle in the Ozarks in The Leg­end of the Al­bino Farm. One part Bridge to Ter­abithia, one part Bag of Bones, Steve Yates’s novel is full of haunt­ing scenes and sto­ries that blur the line be­tween re­al­ity and night­mare.

As Het­ti­enne Sheehy comes of age in the late 1940s, it’s clear that she’s not just cop­ing with the swells and strains of pu­berty: “she suf­fered episodes of cata­to­nia, som­nam­bu­lism, and jags of mys­ti­fy­ing talk.” At times, she’s an or­di­nary, pretty girl; at oth­ers, es­pe­cially at night, she seems pos­sessed. Re­viv­ing from th­ese spells, she shares goose­bump-in­duc­ing sto­ries about strange, pale peo­ple in black, lis­ten­ing to mu­sic that sounds “like a huge grand­fa­ther clock fly­ing apart while some ma­niac wal­lops it with a cello.” At the same time, her sex­u­al­ity awak­ens and her con­cept of the world changes. It’s a com­plete trans­for­ma­tion, in­side and out. Her dream world and the real world of the Ozarks in­ter­min­gle, tak­ing Het­ti­enne and her cousins into dark new places.

Yates’s writ­ing is con­fi­dent and con­trolled. The lingo of the 1950s, as well as his­toric details, makes The Al­bino Farm al­most dis­turbingly be­liev­able. Al­ter­nately whole­some and spine-tin­gling, the novel is full of sur­prises. Yates isn’t afraid to take risks, and the re­ward is an un­usual, smart para­nor­mal fan­tasy that ef­fort­lessly blends el­e­ments of the mid­cen­tury Mid­west with clas­sic ghost-story im­agery.

In the end, it’s not Het­ti­enne who’s the source of the fam­ily’s trou­ble—it’s some­thing deeper. The Leg­end of the Al­bino Farm is sat­is­fy­ing, sus­pense­ful, and full of good old-fash­ioned scares.

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