Gripping, fast-paced, gorgeously written, and with unforgettable characters, Cauchemar tells the story of 20-year-old Hannah, who finds herself living alone on the edge of a Louisianan swamp after her adopted mother and protector dies. Hannah falls in love with Callum, an easy-going boat captain and part-time musician, but after her mysterious birth mother, outcast as a witch and rumoured to commune with the dead, comes back into Hannah’s life, she must confront what she’s been hiding from — the deadly spirits that haunt the swamp, the dark secrets of her past, and the nascent gift she possesses.
Like the nightmares that plague Hannah, Cauchemar lingers and haunts.
While there were elements of Cauchemar that I really, really loved, there were other things that just didn’t do it for me. But here’s the thing: the things I had issues with actually added to the layering of the story and the unbalanced feeling from what was going on, so it didn’t take away from the story and my enjoyment, but actually added to it. Weird huh?
Here, let me try to explain. The two things that I had issues with were the pacing and progression of Hannah and Callum’s relationship. They met and things moved quite quickly. A lot of their earlier interaction left me feeling confused, like I was trying to catch up to what was happening. But this wasn’t a bad thing, nope. This is such an eery and creepy and scary story that my discomfort with how their relationship developed added a layer to my “What the hell is going on?” mentality that I maintained for a large part of the book. Which is also good, since the mystery of what is happening to Hannah is one of the core plot points.
Grigorescu’s descriptions of the swamp where Hannah lives made me feel like I was there. Not that I would want to be. Because there’s some pretty weird crap happening. And I loved that it wasn’t always clear if the mystical things were good or bad. For example, Hannah’s mom. You get the feeling she’s an evil witch (literally) but then at other times the author makes you wonder if maybe she’s actually good and trying to help Hannah.
This was definitely a different read than my normal fare, but I enjoyed it. The tone was perfect for a gothic novel and I think I’ll be delving into the genre some more.