The Colony by F. G. Cottam

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A Ghost Story
in the Finest Sense. Awesome.

This is a ghost story in the finest sense. From the first moments of this fine story, one realizes there will be no going back should they continue into its depths. I cannot recommend this book enough.

The story is atmospheric and the writer utilizes all of the five senses—sight, sound, hearing, touch, and smell—to very great effect throughout. I loved the opening scene, wherein an old movie is uncovered and its viewing described in visceral and lurid detail. It is one of the better opening hooks I have read. And it’s all germane to what comes later.

The author’s use of period vocabulary is spot on. Technically, the novel is extraordinarily well written. The author never misses an opportunity to up the ante—and shiver your bones. The ghosts are real here, and not at all cliche. There is a real price to be paid for crossing these apparitions. Some have criticized Cottam for too much internal dialogue, but it works here spectacularly well. Every facet of the story is explained, but the explanations are interesting and kept within the story arc. I did not find anything that took me out of the moment. A good story, especially a ghost story, must pull the reader into the moment and keep him or her there. It must make them suspend belief. The best stories accomplish this with seeming ease, without the reader ever knowing what’s happening behind the scenes. This takes considerable talent to achieve on the scale of a novel. Cottam excels at it.

Indeed, one of the things that makes THE COLONY such a compelling read is how easily one is pulled into the story. The characters are interesting and drawn so well you can’t help but see them in both their failings and their strengths. No cardboard cut-outs here. Even the ghosts have motivations, though they may make your skin crawl when you discover them.

Which brings me to another point. Cottam doesn’t hesitate to pull back the shroud and unveil the evils men do. He doesn’t dwell on them, he puts them out there at just the right moment and with just the right sort of lighting. He is a master at such stagecraft, as any master storyteller must be.

This is a fun read, effortless, and once captured the reader is rewarded with a growing sense of these people in the very midst of a crisis they apparently realize is coming but cannot avoid, largely because of their own avariciousness. This is a delicious thing to behold, like flies under the swatter who feel the rush of the wind and are powerless against it. And of course when the crisis does come—and believe me, it comes—the suspense is unremitting up to the last moment.

Five stars ***** fairly won. This is a book you will want to read more than once. I would recommend doing so by the flickering light of a wood fire burning in a Rumsford fireplace on a blustery winter night, when the wind is howling across the moors and the rain is pelting at the glass. On such a night, the spirits of yesterday can not be far from any of us.

You have to love it when a good book comes together. This, my friends, is a good book. And a great ghost story.

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