Monroe Poirier has just come back to town and the locals wish he would have stayed away. He has been gone for almost two decades after a family tragedy rocked the small Louisiana town where he lived. The only thing he has left is the dilapidated family house near the swamp. The same house that Levi Bell cannot even walk past as it makes him physically ill.
Levi has the magic of his family that has been passed down through the generations running through his blood. In Levi’s case, he can see a person’s soul just by looking into their eyes. When he looks at Monroe, he sees darkness and the devil come to life. Although Levi is sickened at the sight and thought of the evil lurking within Monroe, he has always been drawn to the very darkness as well as the swamp that could be his ultimate undoing.
Sleep is elusive for Levi as his dreams and his sleepwalking have him visiting the swamp over and over again where the darkness threatens to swallow him whole. But Monroe is waiting to save him time and again for within all the cursed evil that lurks in Monroe’s soul, Levi sees a glimmer of gold. As the pull toward Monroe becomes unbearable, Levi has to figure out how to truly save Monroe’s soul or risk the both of them being lost to the darkness forever.
This is a book that everyone could take something different from. With dark magic and symbolism, it can present itself differently according to perspective. The book is atmospherically creepy and dark and swampy. While Monroe is the one who needs saving, it comes off as more Levi’s story. Levi has lived in the same town his entire life. He lives with his ailing mother and young sister and keeps a low profile in town. Everyone in the small town knows of him, but he keeps his head down and carries on.
Levi has never been bothered by his gifts before. Everyone in his family has some kind of magic within them and it’s just a way of life. But when Levi sees Monroe, he is repelled by what he can see in Monroe’s soul although it’s not the real Monroe he is seeing.
The book moves at a slow pace. I was well into the book and still I was wondering what if anything was happening. In the beginning I was intrigued with Levi and his gifts and then the arrival of Monroe. Levi is consumed with saving Monroe’s soul and while the men do become closer there is a familiar loop of the dreams and the swamp. There are also some familiar characters here with snakes representing the devil and there are good souls and cursed souls and it was nothing all that new. Levi and his family know they are up against the darkest of magic, yet they try the simplest of things at first to contain it and break Monroe free. The ending was predicable all the way through as it’s been done in some form or another many times over.
There were also a few side tangents and the story of Levi’s friend Saddie didn’t add anything to the story for me and the story of Ward really needed further exploration than what was offered.
The guys get together and the pairing of them causes the truest evil to seep through the cracks and together they would burn to the ground, yet they want nothing more and can’t stay away. There was a definitive pull towards each other that was well done, but it came across as more of the result of dark forces and it’s a love story in the sense that Levi has no choice but to try and save Monroe. The book intrigued me and held my attention at the start. It then sort of ambled along and became the lighter side of dark magic, which ultimately didn’t satisfy what I was led to believe this book would be.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.