Gideon by Alex Gordon (Harper Voyager, Jan. 6th, 2015)-Lauren Reardon’s father, John, has died, and in sorting through the things he left, discovers a book called the Book of Endor, and in it, a picture of her father as a young boy, but the name on the picture is Matthew Mullins. Puzzling, indeed, but after she spots a mysterious figure outside of her house, and tragedy strikes after asking a friend for help, all signs point to the little town of Gideon, Illinois, where it seems that the secret to her father’s other life may lie. But, darkness is certainly at work. In the late 1800s, a powerful man by the name of Nicholas Blaine was burned at the stake for crimes he didn’t commit, but his spirit lives on, and it’s determined to once again join the land of the living, even if some residents of Gideon are committed to keep that from happening, and he’ll do anything, and hurt anyone, to do it.
There’s always a plunge you take when you read something from a new author, and it can be daunting, especially when you have a book pile the size of Everest staring you in the face. I’m so very glad I took this plunge. Gordon begins the book in 1836, with the burning of Nicholas Blaine, and the ensuing problems that Gideon continues to have (problems that may be directly related to his death), and after thoroughly setting up the hierarchy of this creepy little town, propels us forward into the present, with the death of Lauren’s father. She’s devastated at his loss, and he never gave any indication that he was raised among witches, or that he actually was one. So, Lauren heads into Gideon to find out the truth and upon arriving finds a town already in the midst of turmoil. Lauren is a smart, strong protagonist, but she’s not perfect. What she is, is very determined to find out the truth about her father’s legacy, and hopefully help save Gideon from an evil that threatens to destroy the barrier between the living and the dead.
Speaking of the dead… These are not your mama’s witches, and Gordon isn’t afraid to delve into horror territory. Some scenes are downright scary (let’s just say Blaine can command the dead and leave it at that) , and she’ll draw you into her otherworldly town before you know it with lovely writing that only underscores the more terrifying scenes. I also enjoyed the fact that Lauren discovers her own powers in a very organic way. Being a good witch doesn’t necessarily mean strict training, after all. These witches rely quite a lot on intuition and instinct, and I really like that. I just really liked this book, actually. Gideon is unusual, absorbing, very atmospheric, and beautifully written. What a fantastic debut!