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The Captive Condition: A Novel by Kevin P.…
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The Captive Condition: A Novel (2015)

by Kevin P. Keating

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The Captive Condition by Kevin P. Keating is a modern Gothic horror novel set in Normandy Falls a small Midwestern college town. Edmund Campion is pursuing a master's degree at the college while also working for the college growns-crew and physical plant. He notices that his professor, Martin Kingsley, is having an affair with his neighbor, Emily Ryan. One drunken night Edmund discovers Emily has drowned in her pool and he begins to obsess on the dead woman. Adding to the creepy mix is his boss called the Gonk; Emily's malicious twin girls (picture the hallway scene in the movie The Shining); Edmund's ex-girlfriend Morgan Fey who works for a chef/drug dealer Xavier D’Avignon (who supplies hallucinogenic carrot juice to the town), and an exotic dancer called Lorelei who has fish tattoos. The whole town is haunted by a strange history and many would say evil spirits who mean to harm the living.

This is a very dark, mysterious novel with an overabundance of drinking or intoxication of some variety. Although, at the beginning, there are glimmers of humor in descriptions, The Captive Condition quickly turns horrific and frightening. Keating writes in a very stylistic manner that is reminiscent of old Gothic horror novels, which adds to the bleak mood he creates. While I can't fault the writing or the plot for any drawbacks, as the novel progressed I wasn't quite as engaged with it as I expected to be and felt disconnected. There were parts where I admired the writing a great deal, but, as the novel descended into horror it left me behind. I would recommend it based on the quality of the writing alone and would highly recommended for anyone who enjoys complex, frightening Gothic horror novels.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Knopf Doubleday for review purposes.
( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Mar 21, 2016 |
Quite the freaky little book in which no one is quite sane or sober and all trapped within their own confines.
  jmchshannon | Dec 29, 2015 |
The Short of It:

Dark and sinister, yet funny and smart.

The Rest of It:

Edmund Campion’s thesis is rejected by Dr. Kingsley so Edmund takes a job as a groundskeeper, working for a guy called The Gonk. Unfortunately, The Gonk is not a good guy and has some secrets of his own.

Dr. Kingsley has secrets too. The woman he’s been having an affair with, Emily Ryan, is found by her two daughters, face down in her own swimming pool. Charlie, unable to raise his daughters on his own, literally abandons them by leaving them with Kingsley and his wife. The girls, however, are more “in the know” than the adults think and they do things to their adult counterparts to keep them on their toes. Oh, these girls are beyond creepy and do their best to make Kingsley afraid of his own shadow. Twins, no less. Reminded me of The Shining a little bit.

This story has a great setting. There’s the highbrow academic side, set against the backdrop of a small Midwestern town. But there’s the other side, the darker side complete with a graveyard and cottage. The promise of something sinister lurks on every page. I enjoyed this part very much.

Kingsley, is an interesting character but the story, I think, is meant to be Edmund’s and he didn’t hold my interest as much as some of the other characters did. The first half was fairly strong, but in the second half, things became a little disjointed. I admit to skimming through a few parts just to get back to Kingsley.

This is a black comedy. Have you read one lately? I think I expected more of a ghost story. There are ghostly elements and graveyards and murders to keep you turning the pages, but it’s peppered with humor which gives it a different feel.

Although the ending did not hold my interest as much as the first half did, I’d absolutely read another novel by this author.

For more reviews, visit my blog: Book Chatter. ( )
  tibobi | Sep 8, 2015 |
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Epigraph
I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily- how calmly I can tell you the whole story.

Edgar Allen Poe, "The Tell-Tale Heart"
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For Katie and Rose
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During the quiet hours after midnight on New Year's Day, the ghosts of Normandy Falls, manacled like felons to the tomb, temporarily escaped the totalitarian scrutiny of heaven and the moldering prison house of death, and from the forlorn churchyard near the square and the untilled fields in the valley, they assembled under the light of a spectral moon and resolved to haunt those who had denied them love.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0804169284, Hardcover)

A seemingly idyllic Midwestern college town turns out to be a nexus of horror in this spellbinding novel—emotionally and psychologically complex, at once chilling and deliciously dark—from a thrilling new voice in fiction.

When Emily Ryan is found drowned in the family pool, pumped full of barbiturates and alcohol, a series of events with cataclysmic consequences ensues. Emily's lover, a college professor, finds himself responsible for her twin daughters, whose piercing stares fill him with the guilt and anguish he so desperately tries to hide from his wife. A low-level criminal named The Gonk takes over the cottage of a reclusive elderly artist, complete with graveyard and moonshine still, and devises plans for both. His young apprentice, haunted by inner demons, seeks retribution for the professor's wicked deeds. The town itself, buzzing into decadent life after sundown, traps its inhabitants in patterns of inexplicable behavior all the while drawing them toward a night in which the horror will reach its disturbing and inevitable conclusion.

Delving into the deepest recesses of the human capacity for evil, Kevin P. Keating's masterful novel will captivate readers from first to last.  

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:58 -0400)

"When Emily Ryan is found drowned in the family pool, pumped full of barbiturates and alcohol, a series of events with cataclysmic consequences ensues. Emily's lover ... finds himself responsible for her twin daughters, whose piercing stares fill him with the guilt and anguish he so desperately tries to hide from his wife. A low-level criminal named The Gonk takes over the cottage of a reclusive elderly artist, complete with graveyard and moonshine still, and devises plans for both ... The town itself, buzzing into decadent life after sundown, traps its inhabitants in patterns of inexplicable behavior all the while drawing them toward a night in which the horror will reach its disturbing and inevitable conclusion"--… (more)

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