Title: The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young
Charlie Cates Trilogy Book One
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Genre: Contemporary, Supernatural (Psychic/Ghost), Mystery, Suspense, Romance
Length: 416 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Penguin’s First to Read Program
From a unique new talent comes a fast-paced debut, introducing a heroine whose dark visions bring to light secrets that will heal or destroy those around her . . .
When New York journalist and recently bereaved mother Charlotte “Charlie” Cates begins to experience vivid dreams about children she’s sure that she’s lost her mind. Yet these are not the nightmares of a grieving parent, she soon realizes. They are messages and warnings that will help Charlie and the children she sees, if only she can make sense of them.
After a little boy in a boat appears in Charlie’s dreams asking for her help, Charlie finds herself entangled in a thirty-year-old missing-child case that has never ceased to haunt Louisiana’s prestigious Deveau family. Armed with an invitation to Evangeline, the family’s sprawling estate, Charlie heads south, where new friendships and an unlikely romance bring healing. But as she uncovers long-buried secrets of love, money, betrayal, and murder, the facts begin to implicate those she most wants to trust—and her visions reveal an evil closer than she could’ve imagined.
A Southern Gothic mystery debut that combines literary suspense and romance with a mystical twist, THE GATES OF EVANGELINE is a story that readers of Gillian Flynn, Kate Atkinson, and Alice Sebold won’t be able to put down.
The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young is a spine-tingling mystery with supernatural elements. This captivating thriller stars Charlotte “Charlie” Cates, a grieving mother whose chilling dreams compel her to accept a writing assignment about the unsolved abduction of a young boy thirty years earlier. Traveling to a remote southern plantation in the swamps of Louisiana, Charlie works with Remy Minot, a detective in the sheriff’s office, while gathering information about the cold case. She is quickly immersed in the perplexing case but her life is endangered when she uncovers long buried family secrets that someone is willing to go to any lengths to keep from being revealed.
Months after her son’s tragic death, Charlie knows there is no going back to her old life so she is intrigued by a job offer from her old editor, Isaac Cohen. After their initial meeting, she is on the verge turning down the assignment until Gabriel Deveau, the missing boy, visits her in a dream pleading for help. With the Deveau family agreeing to co-operate with her, Charlie temporarily moves to the plantation, Evangeline, on a fact finding mission. There, she meets with family matriarch, Hettie, who is in the final stages of terminal cancer and Gabriel’s siblings, Sydney, Brigette and Andre. Although they prove less than helpful, Charlie continues poking around in the family’s past hoping to uncover clues that will answer the haunting question of what happened to Gabriel.
Charlie is a well developed, sympathetic character. She is a bit of a loner and after her son Keegan’s death, she retreats even further into herself as she mourns his loss. Immersing herself in the mystery of what happened to Gabriel is the first step in moving on from his death and the distance from her old life provides her with some much needed clarity about what comes next for her.
Charlie’s investigation is hindered by a lack of co-operation from the Deveau family but a surprising connection to Detective Minot gives her access to old and new evidence in the case. Her psychic dreams continue and while she and Minot discover new information, they end up with more questions than answers. Some of these clues are easy to figure out (although Charlie is sometimes a little slow to catch on) but there are quite a few shocking plot twists that are completely unexpected and impossible to predict.
There is also a slight romantic element to the storyline when Charlie meets Hettie’s landscaper, Noah. Her interest in Noah is piqued when she discovers he is the grandson of Gabriel’s nanny. They quickly indulge in a bit of no strings fling but Charlie soon grows a little apprehensive of him when a routine background check turns up startling information. Her misgivings deepen when new information emerges and Charlie grows suspicious of Noah’s possible involvement in a troubling incident.
Gates of Evangeline is well written debut novel with an intriguing storyline and an appealing cast of characters. An eerie tale that combines supernatural elements with a good old-fashioned mystery and a lovely romance, this first installment in Hester Young’s Charlie Cates Trilogy is a riveting story that I highly recommend.