'But Evangeline's heart was sustained by a vision that faintly
Floated before her eyes, and beckoned her on through the moonlight.
It was the thought of her brain that assumed the shape of a phantom.
Through those shadowy aisles had Gabriel wandered before her,
And every stroke of the oar now brought him nearer and nearer.'
~~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie~~
The character Charlotte 'Charlie' Cates is speaking:
'...It wasn't the book that brought me here. It was Gabriel.'
The bird lifts its head suddenly and gazes at me across the water. I swear it's listening as I lay bare my secret.
'I saw him,' I say. 'I saw Gabriel Deveau.'
The Gates of Evangeline begins with the quote above from Longfellow's famous epic poem about Evangeline, an Acadian girl (which morphed to Cajun) who searches for her lost love, Gabriel. I won't go into the whole history of the Acadian people and how they went from Canada to Louisiana, but you can look it up if you are interested. This book tells the story of Charlotte 'Charlie' Cates, a journalist and writer who comes to Louisiana to write a book about the cold case of a missing child, Gabriel Deveau. After the death of her own son, Charlie begins to dream about children that need her help. This leads her to accept a job offer far from home and indeed, Charlie needs a change. It's either that or she might die of grief. She doesn't understand these dreams and doesn't realize at first that these might be real children.
The Deveau family is a proud and famous one in their part of the world. Their home is called Evangeline and it's located in the bayous and swamps of Louisiana. Charlie finds herself in the midst of a family that is wealthy, entitled, and at odds on many issues. There are secrets, yes, long-held secrets. What did happen to little Gabriel Deveau? Charlie is determined to find out. Along the way, there are new friends, new enemies, a bit of romance, and more dreams. And there's danger certainly, to Charlie and to others.
I enjoyed this book a lot. I was able to figure out some things, but not others. I liked the Louisiana setting and I had a lot of sympathy for Charlie. She has lost her precious child and she wants to help other parents who find themselves in similar situations, if she can. Cathy. from Kittling: Books, saw Hester Young at an author event last fall and wrote about it here. It's a good write-up and gives a lot of insights into the author's process. This is a debut novel and Ms. Young says it was sold as a trilogy. So, we'll be seeing another two books with Charlie as a character. She also said that part of the story is based on a dream that her grandmother had about her child and Hester Young dedicates the book to her grandmother and uncle.
I felt like The Gates of Evangeline contained all the best parts of gothic fiction - an old house, a family with secrets, a little romance, and danger to the main character. I'm pleased with my first Gothic Challenge book, and I look forward to Hester Young's next book in the trilogy, which will be set in Tucson, Arizona. From gothic Louisiana to gothic Arizona - ha!