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Blackwater: The Complete Saga (1983)

by Michael McDowell

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Michael McDowell's Blackwater (Omnibus 1-6)

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1288162,362 (4.34)1 / 7
One of the greatest horror novels ever published, Michael McDowell's critically acclaimed, long out-of-print novel is now available in a six-volume illustrated box set with a new introduction by Poppy Z. Brite. McDowell was at the height of his powers when he wroteBlackwater, a six-part novel about the mysterious Elinor Dammert and her influence over the citizens of Perdido, Alabama, and her ghastly ability to use water to gain her hideous ends.… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
This book definitely has some supernatural elements, but it also has to be classed as very good literature. It's a family saga set in mid-twentieth century Alabama,partly love story, partly family members pulling against each other, but that and so much more. ( )
  Musaib03 | Jan 28, 2021 |
The Caskey family originates in Perdido, Alabama in the early 20th century. The story follows the successes and mysteries of family members through the 1900's. The prose accurately describes life in the segregated south with the family relationships in a small town and for this senior citizen was recognizable and brought back memories. Complicated and shocking circumstances are brought about by one woman who introduces foreign genetic material with her admission to the family. ( )
  Saraishelafs | Nov 4, 2020 |
Epic Southern Family Sagas generally automatically qualify as a Horror genre. IMHO. Deeply creepy, sometimes charming, often batshit crazy, and interspersed with WTF. That's just my normal reaction, however.

Blackwater, on the other hand, raises the water to a new level.

I'm not saying this is all that scary, despite King and Straub lauding this serial novel (combined here as one long novel). But all the elements are here. We're meant to love or really, really hate the characters for their actions and grievances. When the violence comes, it is swift and merciless and sometimes quite creepy. The real charm is in how well written it is.

I was reminded -- quite fondly -- of [b:The House of the Spirits|9328|The House of the Spirits|Isabel Allende|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1358615501l/9328._SY75_.jpg|3374404], only rely on a somewhat horrific supernatural element instead. I'm thinking maybe a marid. :) Definitely a powerful water-based beasty. But here's the kicker... the supernatural is never the focus, merely a spice. The family is the meat. Sometimes literally.

I had a really great time with this, and I can't always say that about epic family dramas. Sometimes I get annoyed with them and just want the whole thing to just wrap up, but that was never the case with this one. McDowell never kept us in suspense about the big stuff. We knew how this would end and he delivered in style. It started with a flood and ended in one. :)

So what makes this really stand out from all the other epic family dramas? Southern included?

The children. The children are always the key. I think I may have been more horrified by how they treat the children than any other reason. Not that they were abused... particularly... but how they were all bargaining chips, even a barter system. And here's the weird bit: no matter how horrible the first event was, it actually made a lot of sense in the later incarnations. People are people. Some people don't want the 'extras' but there were lots in the family who wanted a baby. Sometimes this works out well, sometimes it's just horrific. But when I started sympathizing with and appreciating the concept, that's where I really started getting creeped out. It actually started to make a lot of wicked sense. *shiver*

I totally recommend this for all you family saga fans. :) ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
This was a delightful find! The book opens in 1920; one of the main characters is a woman and a river monster. Sounds silly, but it has turned out to be an audio-listen that has kept me seriously engaged for two days. (Kindle and Audible versions) ( )
  bstonedigital | Feb 23, 2020 |
“Yesterday morning, I had plenty of gas so I wasn't gone stop. But there was Mr. Crawford, standing on the side of the road, waving me down. So I stopped the car, and I said, 'Is there something wrong, Mr. Crawford?' So, Mama, he looks at me, and he says, 'Black water.'"
"Black water?" echoed Elinor, with the same inflection.
“He said, 'Black water, that's where you came from. Black water, that's where you're going back to.” Frances glanced at her mother in the darkness, but could not determine her expression. Elinor had stopped her rocking.
"What else did Dial say, darling?" "He said something else..."
"What?" prompted Elinor with some impatience.
"He said, 'Your mama crawled out of the river.' He said, 'Tell your mama to crawl back in and leave me alone.'"


Blackwater, a Southern Gothic family saga with occasional horror, was originally published during the 1980s in six parts, and I borrowed at least two of them from the library at the time and really enjoyed them. So when I came across this ebook of the whole series I was keen to read the whole of the story as I didn't remember much apart from one of the birth scenes. I definitely enjoyed it as much as I did 30 years ago, and this time I got the whole story.

After ten days, Caroline DeBordenave had to accept what everyone else in Perdido had known from the beginning: John Robert had drowned in the Perdido. Children in town didn’t get bitten by mad dogs or fall down empty well shafts or suffer fatal accidents while playing at “barbershop” or discharge loaded pistols into their throats. In Perdido, unlucky children drowned in the river, and that was that. ( )
  isabelx | Nov 28, 2019 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
McDowell, Michaelprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Langan, JohnIntroductionmain authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
The maenad loves—and furiously defends herself against love’s importunity. She loves—and kills. From the depths of sex, from the dark, primeval past of the battles of the sexes arise this splitting and bifurcating of the female soul, wherein woman first finds the wholeness and primal integrity of her feminine consciousness. So tragedy is born of the female essence’s assertion of itself as a dyad.

Vyacheslav Ivanov, “The Essence of Tragedy”

Translated by Laurence Senelick
I will spunge out the sweetness of my heart,

And suck up horror; Love, woman’s thoughts I’ll kill,

And leave their bodies rotting in my mind,

Hoping their worms will sting; not man outside,

Yet will I out of hate engender much:

I’ll be the father of a world of ghosts,

And get the grave with carcase.

Thomas Lovell Beddoes, “Love’s Arrow Poisoned”
Dedication
For Mama El
First words
At dawn on Easter Sunday morning, 1919, the cloudless sky over Perdido, Alabama, was a pale translucent pink not reflected in the black waters that for the past week had entirely flooded the town.
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One of the greatest horror novels ever published, Michael McDowell's critically acclaimed, long out-of-print novel is now available in a six-volume illustrated box set with a new introduction by Poppy Z. Brite. McDowell was at the height of his powers when he wroteBlackwater, a six-part novel about the mysterious Elinor Dammert and her influence over the citizens of Perdido, Alabama, and her ghastly ability to use water to gain her hideous ends.

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