Those Who Went Remain There Still

October 24, 2016 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , , , )

remainThose Who Went Remain There Still by Cherie Priest

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Imagine a story like the Hatfields and McCoys, where two families feud over the course of generations. Imagine further that the patriarch of the two families has died, calling all of his family back to read his will. Six men — three from each family — are to descend into a nearby cave where he hid his will. That in itself would make for an interesting story, but Priest does it one better by setting Those Who Went Remain There Still against the backdrop of a monster story, as what the men find in the cave is worse than they imagined.

Like Dreadful Skin, this novella uses multiple first-person narrators, but it’s better handled here than it was in that other novel. For one, she limits herself to just three different narrators, one of whom is Daniel Boone, narrating his part of the story one hundred years before the other characters. For another, she does a better job making them sound distinct.

One of the characters is a member of a spiritual cult, and his ties to the dead allow him to see ghosts, which feature into the plot. It seemed too convenient, especially when, late in the story, another character also sees one, though it’s unclear why he does, or who the ghost is supposed to be. It felt a little tacked on, especially in a story where the monster serves the purpose of the supernatural. I get that if monsters can exist in this world, then ghosts can too, but it didn’t seem necessary, except to steer the characters in the right direction.

Somehow, despite the fact that the two families live close to the caves, none of the men who go into the caves knows a thing about the creatures there. Two of the characters have moved away, so it would make sense that they don’t know, but the rest of the family has stayed there all their lives. As the story progresses, it becomes clear that the monsters have been there a long time, and that people have gone missing, so why not address any legends or rumors? The cave is called the Witch’s Pit, after all, so wouldn’t the locals at least not be as surprised when they find the creatures?

The thing is, despite those concerns (which, admittedly, aren’t slight), this novella is still a fun read. It feels more like what Priest did in the Boneshaker series than Dreadful Skin, so readers familiar with her adventuresome style in that series will find something familiar here. The story ends rather abruptly, after a lengthy battle against the nameless creature that lives in the caves, but the journey to that point is satisfying.

 

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