The Cypress House - Michael Koryta Yes, I gave it four stars but with a big reservation.

A question I always ask myself when reading a novel of the supernatural is, "Are the supernatural elements essential to the story." Or is it just a gimmick. Many paranormal romances violate this principle four times before breakfast. Fortunately I do not read very many PR. The Cypress House, not a PNR by any definition although there is a romance, failed this particular requirement. The supernatural aspect seems a little hacked on to me. Especially disturbing is how the book description hints at more supernatural horrors. While there is plenty of evil awaiting our protagonist, it is not the supernatural variety.

Yet even with that complaint, The Cypress House is an engaging thriller with lots of terrifying moments. Arlen Wagner is an admirably strong hero with demons of his own to struggle with. The villains in this novel are truly villainous. The Southern depression era setting with its hurricanes and swamps lend a colorfully rich background to this thriller. The plot regarding wandering laborers and local corrupt authorities is quite riveting. In fact, I liked this book better than the previously read The Ridge in which the supernatural elements were core to the story.

The main thing taken away from this reading is that Michael Koryta is an excellent writer and a truly gifted storyteller. While I would prefer more emphasis on the supernatural, Koryta's tale focusing on the horrors of our fellow humans is not to be taken lightly. I will be reading more Koryta soon.