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1919. Le acque nere e minacciose del fiume sommergono la cittadina di Perdido, Alabama. Come gli altri abitanti, i ricchissimi Caskey, proprietari di boschi e segherie, devono fronteggiare il disastro provocato dalla furia degli elementi. Ma il clan, capeggiato dalla potente matriarca Mary-Love e dal figlio devoto Oscar, dovrà anche fare i conti con un’apparizione sconvolgente. Dalle viscere della città sommersa compare Elinor, donna dai capelli di rame con un passato misterioso e un oscuro disegno: insinuarsi nel cuore dei Caskey.

250 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1983

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About the author

Michael McDowell

49 books884 followers
Michael McDowell is a prolific horror writer who has distinguished himself with a varied body of work within the genre. He was born in Enterprise, Alabama, in 1950 and died of AIDS-related illness in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1999.

His first horror novel, The Amulet, relates the tragedies that befall various individuals who come in possession of a supernatural pendant in a small town.

In McDowell's second novel, Cold Moon Over Babylon, a murdered woman's corpse is dispatched into a river, but her spirit roams the land, and in the evening hours it seeks revenge on her killer even as he plots the demise of her surviving relatives.

Don D'Ammassa, writing in the St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost & Gothic Writers, noted that McDowell's ability to maintain a sense of mundane normalcy against supernatural activity provides the novel with "a fine balance between reality and unreality," and he called Cold Moon Over Babylon "one of the best ghost stories ever written at novel length."

A similarly disturbing tension between dull reality and the supernatural is produced in The Elementals, wherein a host of visitors come to stay at a secluded house occupied by embodiments of elemental forces.

McDowell's Katie, meanwhile, concerns a clairvoyant serial killer whose powers of perception enable her to evade her trackers. The attractive but deranged heroine of this novel manages to conduct her murderous activities despite the awareness of her parents, who are content to derive financial gain from their daughter's crimes.

Madness is central to McDowell's Toplin, which details the vile imaginings of a man who suffers from mental illness but nonetheless determines to conduct himself within society. D'Ammassa praised Toplin as "perhaps the best novel ever written from the point of view of a schizophrenic."

Among McDowell's other writings is the six-part serial novel Blackwater, a chronicle of a southern family drawn to the supernatural. In addition, McDowell has also supplied the screenplays for various films, including director Tim Burton's horror comedy Beetlejuice and his animated production The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Stephen King called McDowell one of the "finest writers of paperback originals in America today." Tabitha King was asked to complete McDowell's unfinished novel Candles Burning, which was published in 2006 to good reviews. Concerning his career, McDowell never tried to be something he wasn't. "I am a commercial writer and I'm proud of that", he said in the book Faces of Fear in 1985. "I am writing things to be put in the bookstore next month. I think it is a mistake to try to write for the ages."

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 674 reviews
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 2 books247k followers
July 5, 2019
”The town rotted beneath a wide sheet of stinking, still black water, which only now was beginning to recede. The pediments and gables and chimneys of houses that had not been broken up and washed away jutted up through the black shining surface of the flood, stone and brick and wooden emblems of distress. But no assistance came to their silent summonses, and driftwood and unidentifiable detritus and scraps of clothing and household furnishings swept against them and were caught and formed reeking nests around those upraised fingers.”

 photo Blackwater-Flood_zpshh0uzlku.jpg

Elinor Dammert arrives with the flood.

No one is sure how she survived the flood in that room in the Hotel Osceola. Bray Sugarwhite, the black man accompanying Oscar Caskey in a boat when they liberate Elinor through the window of that hotel room, might have said it best. ”He stared at the back of the young woman who had had no business at all being found where she was found.”

The waterline on the wall paper in that room is higher than what she could have survived.

Maybe she has gills and webbed feet.

That is a knee slapper of a thought.

The arrival of a new woman, a teacher, is an exhilarating occurance in a town where, ”the most exciting thing to do in Perdido is sit on the bank of the river and count the dead possums floating by!”

She moves in with Oscar’s Uncle James, who needs someone to help him with his daughter Grace after his wife Genevieve went on an extended holiday to Nashville and never came back. She likes to drink and have a good time. James ”despite the possession of that wife and daughter---had the reputation of being marked with ‘the stamp of femininity.’”

That “stamp” keeps the town from whispering too much about a single, lovely, redheaded woman living in the house of a married man while the wife is on “holiday.”

Now Mary-Love Caskey, mother of Oscar and sister of James, doesn’t like Elinor, not one bit. It doesn’t help her not to like her, knowing how much James appreciates her or having to watch Oscar looking at her with doe eyes, like a moon sick calf. She doesn’t like the fact that Elinor is odd by nature and that she doesn’t know her people.

 photo Blackwater-The20Flood_zpsa8mifhmg.jpg

Strange, unusual things start happening beyond the normal strange things that seem to be a hallmark of Southern living. Those peculiar things about the South that so inspired William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, Cormac McCarthy, and Pat Conroy to capture those essences on paper. Jewelry buried with a corpse suddenly reappears, and people go missing; there are strange noises, bumps and bangs, and doors shimmy and shake in ways they shouldn’t. ”’Oh, Mama,’ she pleaded in a whisper, ‘don’t open that door.’”

Of course, Mama hasn’t watched the movies that I’ve watched over the years. The golden rule of horror cinema is...never...open...the...door.

The novel spirals more and more out of control as Elinor and Mary-Love become more creative in their battles to control each other.

Michael McDowell wrote this six part series in the 1980s. It was the first serialized horror novel that I had ever encountered. The mass market originals were published by Avon books and have these distinctive creepy black covers. Copies in very good to fine condition are becoming quite collectible. I had many, many copies goes through my hands over the years of working in the used book business. This serialization actually inspired Stephen King, who is a big fan of McDowell’s writing, to serialize The Green Mile in 1996.

 photo Michael20McDowell20author201991_zpsa2gcwmcl.jpg
Did you hear something, Michael McDowell?

McDowell was a collector of death memorabilia, which might account for some of the disturbing descriptions that he uses in his writing. He was born in Alabama and died in Massachusetts, unfortunately, at the tender age of 49. Yet another creative person lost to the AIDS epidemic. He knew the South intimately. I could tell by the descriptions of these colorful characters that he created them in similar fashion to how Frankenstein assembled his monster, with pieces and parts of numerous people.

As you can tell by the opening quote I started this review with, his books ooze with gothic nuances. The novel on the surface feels so normal, but underlying the words is this feeling of impending doom and the sizzling hum of menacing danger. The reader knows things aren’t quite right, but we don’t know exactly why.

So get your feet wet ”in the churning water dyed the color of the clay beneath---dyed red, Perdido red” and swelter a while with the people of Alabama as they clean up their water swollen hymnals, bump the alligators off their front porch, and try to restore their town to dryland. Rest assured, I’ll be reading the rest.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten
Profile Image for Justin Tate.
Author 9 books863 followers
March 21, 2019
I'm just discovering Michael McDowell. He wrote many books, mostly horror novels, but was also the brains behind Beetlejuice and Nightmare Before Christmas. Apparently this Blackwater series is considered his magnum opus. This first book was certainly captivating enough for me to continue on to Book 2. Initially my reaction wasn't so positive, however. After an eerie, supernatural opening, the story steers into seemingly ordinary domestic squabbles. It actually reminded me a lot of Sinclair Lewis' Main Street, or maybe Steinbeck's Cannary Row. Certainly not the in-your-face frights that the cover implied.

About halfway through, I stopped worrying about when the beasties would show up and savored the uniqueness. This isn't your typical horror novel, and that's what makes it satisfying. The ending shocker firmly establishes what I suspect will be the central conflict moving forward--matriarchal power.

Like any good creepy tale, the fear and surprise works best when it's rooted in realism. The large cast of characters are vivid and recognizable, and even Eleanor--with all her mystery--seems like someone real. Maybe even someone I know. I don't know how "scary" this series will end up being, but even if it is a magical realism remix on Cannery Row, I have a feeling it's going to be good.

Profile Image for Char .
1,597 reviews1,441 followers
September 7, 2014

This book has it all for any horror fan!

Creepy creature masquerading as human? Check!

Southern gothic style tale set in a small town? Check!

Horrible happenings surrounded in mystery? Check!

Vivid characters and scenes that are easily and perfectly rendered in your mind? Check!

All the small town, gossipy mean-ness and the grit of day to day life? Check!

Combine all that yumminess with a writer possessing a mastery of the language, without being too cheesy, without being pretentious, and with an eye towards FUN. You can't go wrong!

This is a novella, so it doesn't take long to whip through. It's also a cliffhanger. I normally hate that, but in this case I knew that it was a serial novel so I expected and embraced that ending, secure in the knowledge that I have book 2 ready to go. What I have right here is the literary equivalent of binge watching. Right on!
Profile Image for Karl.
3,258 reviews257 followers
March 8, 2015
Michael Mcdowell (June 1, 1950 – December 27, 1999) was a talented writer who is perhaps best known for his work on the screenplay for the Tim Burton film "Beetlejuice".

His final, unfinished novel "Candles Burning" was completed by novelist Tabitha King and published in 2006.

McDowell wrote fiction at night while supporting himself through teaching and secretarial work. Six early novels with titles like "Venus Restored" and "Blood and Glitter" went unpublished and are still unpublished.

His publishing debut came in 1979 with the publication of "The Amulet", which he had begun writing as a screenplay. From there to around 1987, McDowell would publish over 30 novels, 16 of them under his own name. Some were purely contractual, including a series of light "Nick and Nora" type mysteries written for Ballantine Books called "Jack and Susan", and a novelization of the movie "Clue".

He wrote two novels as Axel Young, four novels as Nathan Aldyne, three novels as Preston Macadam, and one more under the name of Mike McCray as well as seventeen books under his own name. In the forward of the first volume in this book Poppy Z. Bright states there is still one more pseudo name that has not been revealed as of yet, and also states that Mcdowell wrote over 40 books.

“I do feel that the universe is a joke,” McDowell said. “And that we are the butt of that joke. And horror is one of the best ways of saying that, of saying that there are things out there and forces and vibrations that are simply malevolent.”

This is Southern Gothic smoothly written with style and we follow the rise and deterioration of family and fortune.

This set (originally published in 1983) consists of the six books in the series.

Book 1: The Flood
Book 2: The Levee
Book 3: The House
Book 4: The War
Book 5: The Torture
Book 6: The Rain

All beautifully illustrated and in a slipcase, this signed and numbered is set 199 of 250.
Profile Image for erigibbi.
743 reviews634 followers
January 23, 2023

Una saga familiare, elementi oscuri, gotici e soprannaturali. UN CONNUBIO PERFETTO.
Sono stata rapita fin da subito perché – anche se in questo primo volume sembra succedere ben poco (e comunque due morti già ci stanno eh quindi insomma, proprio poco poco non succede) – si comincia con due fiumi che sono esondati, città nel caos, una donna che salta fuori dal nulla, la matriarca della famiglia (nonché una delle donne più importanti del paese per via della famiglia di appartenenza) che fin da subito non è convinta della tipa saltata fuori all’improvviso, e sembra l’unica (o quasi) che si rende conto che qualcosa non torna, e via coi pettegolezzi, e via con la famiglia che battibecca e via con i cittadini che chiacchierano e additano e sogghignano CIOÈ DAI COME FACCIO A NON AMARE UNA COSA DEL GENERE.
Poi mi chiedo una cosa: sono io troppo naïve o effettivamente il personaggio di Elinor sembra costruito molto bene? Mi spiego. Elinor è chiaramente quella cattiva; non tanto perché è misteriosa e mezzo mostro marino, ma proprio perché due morti ci stanno e tutti e due sono morti per mano sua (e se di un personaggio si può pensare: “be’ se l’è meritato”, dell’altro proprio non possiamo pensare una cosa del genere). Però io ogni tanto ho anche pensato: “ma è davvero così cattiva? Perché mi sembra che voglia bene a questa bambina qua, che voglia proteggere quest’altra bambina qua” e via dicendo. Certo, poi m’ammazza questo e quest’altro, però a volte sembra un personaggio più grigio che nero. Come se l’autore ci volesse far pensare che sia facile giudicare da quel poco che sappiamo e leggiamo, ma in realtà è ben altra la verità. E forse non esistono personaggi completamente buoni e quelli completamente cattivi. O forse sono io che voglio trovar del buono in chiunque. Immagino lo scoprirò con i prossimi volumi.
Comunque bello, a me questo volume è piaciuto proprio tanto e non vedo l’ora di continuare con i seguiti.
Profile Image for Tressa .
539 reviews
August 2, 2007
Michael McDowell died of AIDS in 1999. He was taken from the publishing world way too soon.

I'm a southerner and a big fan of southern gothic literature. McDowell wrote a series called Blackwater that tells the story of a southern family's rise and fall, all due to a stranger who showed up in town one day.

I'm including an article I wrote for my library's blog about this wonderful author. Please search down his books and read them. You won't be disappointed.


The recent 9th annual Alabama Bound at the Central library brought to mind my all-time favorite Alabama author, Michael McDowell. Never heard of him? It could be the fact that not every great writer makes the New York Times bestseller’s list. Well, to be honest, most of our great writers don’t. McDowell is one of those writers. Unfortunately, he died too soon and too underrated.

McDowell was born in 1950 in Enterprise, Alabama. He died in 1999 of AIDS-related illness in Boston, Massachusetts. In between he left his mark on different fiction genres and even rubbed elbows with Hollywood’s Tim Burton through their collaborations on Beetlejuice (1987) and Nightmare Before Christmas (1993).

My first introduction to McDowell happened 25 years ago in my favorite used bookstore on Rocky Ridge Road. Browsing the horror section I came across a series set in Alabama. Blackwater (1983) is a serial of six books that tells the story of the Caskey family’s rise to power in the small mill town of Perdido, Alabama. The twist in the story is that the matriarch is something other than human; something that crawled from the red mud of the Perdido riverbank and set her ambitious sights on a man and a town.

The Amulet (1979), Cold Moon Over Babylon (1980) and The Elementals (1981) are also set in Alabama and contain similar supernatural themes of revenge and redemption. McDowell is an expert at bringing to life the mannerisms and diction of his southern characters, from the sweet tea they guzzle in the summer to their endearing use of “gone” for “going.” It's not for nothing that McDowell's southern gothics are matriach-heavy; he really had an understanding of just who heads up families here in the south.

McDowell takes a wide turn in his two turn of the centry novels set in New York, Katie (1982) and Gilded Needles (1980). Katie tells the story of a cunning woman, her dull, psychic stepdaughter and their desperate attempts to hang on to a carpetbag full of blood money. Don’t let the book cover showing a silhouette of a girl holding an ax dripping with blood and the line “Katie kills for kicks and cash” scare you away. This is not a pulp fiction throwaway but a smart, tense story that will keep you white knuckled until the last word. Gilded Needles chronicles the clashes between a mother and her family of thieves and a powerful, wealthy New York judge.

Stephen King didn't call McDowell one of the "finest writers of paperback originals in America today” for nothing. Tabitha King was asked to complete McDowell's unfinished novel Candles Burning, which was published last year to good reviews.

Many of McDowell’s books are out of print and hard to find. So if you find yourself in some dusty used bookstore and happen to spot one, grab it for posterity.
Profile Image for Jonathan Janz.
Author 42 books1,662 followers
February 18, 2020
When I used to think of amazing Southern Gothic writers, some names that always popped into my head were Flannery O'Connor, William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Carson McCullers, Harry Crews, and Erskine Caldwell.

After reading THE ELEMENTALS and THE FLOOD (BLACKWATER #1), I now think of Michael McDowell too. That I group him with the above writers should tell you everything about how much I love his work and respect him as a storyteller.

So...yeah. Five stars. McDowell is incredible.
Profile Image for Laurelas.
431 reviews181 followers
July 29, 2022
J'ai mis de côté mon snobisme de la VO pour m'offrir la (si belle) édition Monsieur Toussaint Louverture - alors qu'est-ce que ça donne ?

Eh bien ma foi, ça se lit vite, très vite, c'est assez bien écrit/traduit avec des descriptions qui immergent bien dans l'atmosphère un peu étrange de Perdido... J'ai trouvé l'intrigue un peu lente à se mettre en place, et suis restée un poil sur ma faim avec le côté fantastique (jusqu'à la fin où ça s'intensifie un tout petit peu) mais ça m'a donné envie de découvrir la suite !

Finalement, ce premier opus me semble surtout mettre tout en place - lieux, personnages, intrigue, comme une mise en bouche pour le reste de la saga. Espérons que la suite soit aussi (si ce n'est plus) intrigante et intéressante...

(Et pourquoi pas à relire en VO un jour, je suis sûre que c'est assez easy à lire...)
Profile Image for Noel.
233 reviews138 followers
January 3, 2018
I can forgive a book a slow plot if the characters are great. But in this book, the plot was slow, and the characters were rather dull. This feels like just a prologue to the series really, which is fine, but I felt like it should have either been about half the length, or should have had more going on in the middle. All of the hints of creepiness from the beginning were lost for most of the book. And those creepy bits were great, so I was pretty disappointed when they were gone.

I’m not sure if I’ll continue on. Part of me wants to, because I think that when things start happening that the series will be pretty good, but I’m not sure the next installment will be any better.
Profile Image for Layton.
135 reviews41 followers
February 28, 2015
This is my fifth Review Month review.

Does anyone else remember that great romp of a soap opera, Dark Shadows from the 60s and early 70s?


I've always loved that show, even though I wasn't exactly around when it originally aired. Every episode had deliciously cheesy dialogue and I think the series had some great storylines, with the best of course being Barnabas's first shows.

I'm currently reading the fourth book in this series, and the whole time I've read the series I've felt like this was almost a southern version of that series with watered down supernatural elements (pun intended), and a more serious story.


The series takes place in Perdido, Alabama, a town ruled by the rich families who own the lumber mills that operate along the two rivers that branch off from the town. Here is a map of Perdido that I found online while reading the first book that helped me visualize its makeup a little better.


It was tricky finding this particular, fictional map, because there is actually a real town in Alabama named Perdido.

If you look to the left of the map, alongside the Perdido River are five houses. The three to the farthest left belong to the richest family of all, The Caskeys, who our story is based around.

This first book in the series starts after a flood covers all of Perdido in 1919, causing all the townspeople to move to higher ground . Some men take boats out into this partially covered town to make sure everyone got out, and that no one remains in the upper stories of the buildings.

Oscar Caskey, son of the family matriarch Mary Love, is out searching with the family handyman/gardener/chauffeur, Bray Sugarwhite.


The two men are passing the second story of the Osceola Hotel, when Bray spots a woman sitting inside on one the beds. This woman comes with Oscar and Bray back to higher ground.

The rest of the town are baffled that she has survived for a week in the hotel without eating. Bray is even more baffled when he goes back to retrieve her bags and sees the the high-water mark of the flood is somewhere near the ceiling of the room.

Little does Oscar, Bray, or the rest of the Caskey family know what effect this enigmatic and mysterious woman will have on the town of Perdido, or on the family itself.

This lady's name is Elinor Dammert, and she isn't entirely human.


This first book is the series is fantastic, but it doesn't hold up to the next three books. This series just keeps getting better and better, and some members of this family are so complex and well written it really baffles me.

The thing that McDowell does in this book that I hope he was really proud of was he perfectly showed the relations and "rules" of a southern family. He just understood that southern antebellum behavior that makes the south such a wild place.

He also creates an astounding atmosphere. I could practically feel the southern heat on my skin, and the sun bearing down on me. Oh, and the awesome imagery. Every scene in this book is so fleshed out and visceral, I actually felt as if I was standing in the background of some of them.

The strange thing about how he is able to create this atmosphere and imagery is the fact that he takes a very minimalist approach to descriptions. The reader never gets a clear depiction of what the Caskeys look like, nor do we get a rendering of what Perdido itself looks like. But I never really wanted one, I enjoyed having my own idea of what this place looked and felt like.

McDowell is a real forgotten treasure of a writer and after researching him, I have even more respect for him.

This is a man who graduated from Harvard and could have written literary, mass-published novels, but who chose to write paperback originals so he could get more work out to his readers.

"I am writing things to be put in the bookstore next month. I think it is a mistake to try to write for the ages."

And at the same time he was also a really interesting man. He collected pictures of corpses and, rumour has it, his coffee table was an empty coffin.


So without any doubt I give 5 black-as-the-flood stars to this wonderful forgotten classic.

Even if it's not as good as its successors, you always have to start somewhere.


You can find my review of McDowell's other book, The Elementals, here .
Profile Image for Paul Ataua.
1,245 reviews119 followers
October 21, 2021
There is something not right about the circumstances under which Elinor is rescued from her hotel room during the flood. Things don’t quite add up. Mysteries surround her and things get stranger and stranger as she embeds herself in the Caskey household and the town of Perdido, Alabama. I love the way the author slowly builds the tension in this the first of the six book 'Blackwater' series. I will definitely get around to the next one soon.
Profile Image for Anthony Vacca.
423 reviews277 followers
November 9, 2017
A charming comedy of Southern manners starring a family of wealthy mill owners is interrupted by the arrival of a town-swallowing flood and an amphibious woman with ambition for aristocracy. As the first entry in McDowell's Blackwater, The Flood takes the melodramatics of the family saga (i.e. those unassailable passions and their inevitable betrayals that span generations and keep soap operas on air for decades) and enlivens all the impropriety with a whimsical flair for horror. A breezy delight to read with some wry commentary on gender dynamics.
Profile Image for TheBookWarren.
391 reviews79 followers
July 23, 2022
4.75 Stars (Blackwater #1) (Rnd ⬆️) — (Read as re-published Blackwater #1-5 — One-book edition by Valancourt publishing)

Blackwater, put as plainly as I can — Is a bonafide modern-southern-gothic masterpiece. It’s slick, laid back prose lulls the reader into a warm & cosy mode where each paragraph is so well written, one is lulled into a false sense of security that begets you into a thought process and daydream, forgetting entirely that it is indeed an eery Horror you’re holding. It’s stylish sentences come at you by oozing off of the page, thanks to the beautiful setting early 20th Century Alabama setting McDowell paints — in what for me — a gambol-inducing opening novella. Honestly, the town of Perdido circa 1920 may as well of been thrown through a portal to my immediate-view such is the rich detail in which MM writes, authenticity being assumed as it can’t be questioned even if one wanted to. It sure made me want to peek-inside the world of Perdido & it’s pre-eminent family the Caskey’s. A good thing when approx 800 more pages lay-ahead.

Following the introduction of this wonderful-setting, MM’s prose being as laconic as it is here, dollops more than launches his characters in the first part of this 5 part story. We learn of Elenor Dammert’s strange & befitting entrance, where she is brought back to Perdido by Oscar Caskey and his trusted helper Ivey to meet the Matriarch, and lower house that is Mary-Love Caskey.

The stage is set for the two strong and virulently-fuelled woman to begin a battle for the — quite literal — Ages. Blackwater, In-fact is abound with strong women, and there is no man anywhere near staunch enough in his persona to come close to matching them. Perdido is no place for the faux-politic of male dominance, the men in this novel well and truly take a backseat only ride here and they absolutely know it — which is what makes it work and come together so very well.

Part 2 coming right up!!!

PS — Do yourself a favour and GET THIS BOOK. Once you do be sure to checkout the forward by Nathan Ballingrad — Short, sharp, succinct & for me absolutely obligatory.
Profile Image for ᴥ Irena ᴥ.
1,649 reviews212 followers
November 15, 2014
Most of us tend to pick a side in a book we are reading. It is almost impossible to do that here. If there weren't one incident with a boy and a whirlpool, it would be easy. The only thing that made me lean towards one is how obnoxiously annoying the other one was throughout the book.

Elinor Dammert just appeared in a flooded hotel room to be 'rescued' by Oscar Caskey and Bray Sugarwhite. From the first moment you know there is something strange about her. She conveniently lost her other suitcase with her documents and diplomas (if there ever was one). Over the course of the story Elinor proceeds to show just how different she actually is. The best thing is that there are no explanations and yet you don't feel you are left in the dark. For the first book in the series it seems enough to know that the river, water in general, is very important to her.

As for the characters in this book, they aren't very deep, but I got the feeling that they aren't supposed to be. At least, not in this first book. Nothing is lost, the story holds your attention quite well even with the characters that seem to have only one or two pronounced traits (Elinor seems cunning and cold, Mary Love is constantly annoyed, Sister and Oscar are spineless each in their own way and so on). None of it ruins this story. They are still wonderfully alive in my mind.
At first I found Mary Love, the matriarch of the Casky family, amusing but she started getting on my nerves later on.

A flooded small town, a mysterious woman, unexplained behaviour, even death, these all create this deliciously creepy atmosphere. The writing is superb. You could almost feel the stink of rotten and wet wood after the flood. And you will almost start sweating during the heat wave. That atmosphere more than anything else, more than the characters, is the linchpin of the story.

The Flood is the first book in Blackwater series and it ends with a cliffhanger. I usually hate them, but whether it is because of the writing or something else, it works in this book.
As a starting point for a series, it manages to grab one's attention really well.
Profile Image for L'ours inculte.
410 reviews129 followers
March 24, 2022
Chez Monsieur Toussaint Louverture, on aime les bouquins, on aime les bouquins hors-norme, et on aime donner tout ce qu’on a pour mettre en valeur les bouquins hors-norme. Si vous suivez un peu leur coin d’internet, vous n’avez pas pu passer à côté de leur annonce de publication de Blackwater. L’éditeur va sortir les 6 tomes de cette petite saga directement en poche, mais des poches au rendu méga-classe.

1919, l’eau a envahi la petite ville de Perdido, Alabama. Les maisons sont inondées, les scieries et entrepôts de bois qui font vivre toute la communauté sont sous l’eau, les habitants s’entraident et se réfugient sur les hauteurs. Oscar Caskey, héritier d’une des grande famille du coin et dirigeant d’une des exploitation, fait un dernier tour de barque avec son employé Brey lorsqu’ils découvrent une femme qui attend dans une chambre à l’étage de l’hôtel du coin. Coincée là depuis 4 jours, Elinor Dammert est soulagée d’être enfin secourue. Elle se présente comme institutrice et va intégrer la communauté qui se reconstruit, mais son passé reste un mystère. Elle se rapproche de la famille Caskey, mais la matriarche Mary-Love ne voit pas d’un très bon œil cette femme louche qui s’incruste dans sa vie, il va falloir la surveiller de près celle-là.

Blackwater est une saga en 6 tomes, un feuilleton publié dans les années 80 que l’éditeur français a voulu proposer sous son format original. Nous aurons donc droit à un tome de 250 pages toutes les deux semaines, dans un format poche aux couvertures magnifiques, au design soigné, avec dorures et gaufrages du plus bel effet. Chez Monsieur Toussaint Louverture, les bouquins débordent d’amour, c’est beau, c’est travaillé dans les moindres détails. Et le bouquin il est poli, même le code-barre il dit merci.

Le texte, quant à lui, nous emporte dans l’Alabama de 1919, dans une petite communauté où tout le monde se connait. On est dans un état du sud où l’esclavage a été aboli mais les noirs sont toujours très loin de l’égalité avec les blancs. Ils sont « employés » par les grandes familles, certes, mais payés une broutille. Ils travaillent à n’importe quelle heure, quel que soit leur âge (même les enfants, qui ne vont évidemment pas à l’école), et peuvent être « punis » s’ils se comportent « mal ». Le contexte social, l’ambiance, le sens de cette époque, tout est retranscrit avec talent et précision par l’auteur. Il y a un travail d’immersion et d’atmosphère remarquable dans ce premier tome.

Dans ce contexte, on découvre la famille Caskey, pilier de la communauté de Perdido. Mary-Love en est la matriarche, elle vit avec sa fille Sister et son fils Oscar qui gère le gros de l’entreprise familiale. L’oncle James habite la maison d’à côté et élève sa fille quasi-seul pendant que sa femme va s’amuser et picoler ailleurs pendant des mois. Toute cette famille va être déstabilisée par l’arrivée d’Elinor et du mystère qui l’entoure. Elle est quand même étrange cette femme qui s’incruste, elle va s’installer chez James et se rapprocher d’Oscar, mais personne ne la connait vraiment donc on se méfie.

Ce qui apparait comme une saga historique familiale va virer doucement vers le fantastique par petites touches. Le rapprochement avec les écrits de Stephen King n’est pas usurpé (pour une fois) car on retrouve un peu la même recette qu’apprécie Sai King : Une communauté avec de fortes personnalités, et un élément perturbateur extérieur qui va se glisser au milieu, avec ses petites touches d’étrange et dérangeant. La recette fonctionne à merveille, on dévore ce premier tome grâce à cette mise en place brillante et ce travail d’ambiance qui nous tient et nous pousse à creuser pour connaitre les secrets de cette histoire, et les secrets d’Elinor. Je vais en dire le moins possible là-dessus, pour vous laisser le plaisir de la découverte entier, on a quelques aperçus de derrière le rideau de la normalité, des éléments étranges, des détails glauques, et une scène type « maison hantée » où on sent que l’auteur s’est fait plaisir ! Et le lecteur aussi, donc ça tombe bien.

Ce n’est que le premier tome donc on attend encore de savoir où tout ça nous mène, mais ce démarrage est très convaincant. Entre le contexte historique original, l’ambiance tout à fait particulière et l’étrange qui se glisse dans les coins, j’ai hâte de voir où la famille Caskey nous emmène.

Livre reçu en service presse dans le cadre d’une opération Masse Critique Babelio, merci à eux et à l’éditeur Monsieur Toussaint Louverture.

Profile Image for Kimberly.
1,657 reviews2 followers
August 27, 2015
The Flood is the first in a series of six books in Michael McDowell's BLACKWATER series. This was a fantastic start that had everything you could want to satisfy those that love Southern Gothic books, and leave you wanting to continue the series immediately. A strange woman, stranded by a flood, is rescued in town. What follows in this book is how she takes to life in town and sets about marrying into one of the richest, most influential families there. Elinor is a mysterious character that I can't help but like--both for what I've learned about her, and what I haven't yet.

I don't want to give away too much here (as there are five other books to read yet), but fans of Gothic, atmospheric horror will not be disappointed in this book, or--I suspect--this entire series.

Highest recommendation!
Profile Image for Julien L..
97 reviews19 followers
April 11, 2022
Un excellentissime début de saga qui se lit vraiment facilement.
A l’image des 2 rivières (véritables héroïnes de ce roman-fleuve) La Perdido et La Blackwater, le style est fluide, fort et violent.
On y plonge sans jamais reprendre sa respiration et on visite cet univers en apnée car il faut bien retenir son souffle face aux multiples petits cliffhanger.
Mêlez à tout ceci un côté fantastico-horrifique et vous obtiendrez un malaise tout du long.
On sait que c’est là, on sait que ça observe, que ça se nourrie mais pourquoi, dans quel but et comment ?

Embarquez sur le flot impétueux des rives de l’Alabama et laissez vous porter.
Profile Image for Benjamin - Les Mots Magiques.
207 reviews60 followers
May 5, 2022
L’action se déroule dans la petite ville de Perdido en Alabama alors qu’une crue impressionnante vient de bouleverser la vie des habitants. C’est dans ce contexte qu’Oscar et son domestique vont découvrir l’énigmatique Elinor qui va, petit à petit, s’immiscer dans la vie d’Oscar.

J’ai vraiment beaucoup aimé ce court roman que j’ai dévoré en 2 jours. Dans les faits, l’action n’est pas extrêmement présente, en tout cas dans ce premier tome, mais l’ambiance permet de rendre le récit extrêmement addictif.

J’avoue que j’étais un peu inquiet en entendant les gens décrire ce roman comme une saga familiale : c’est typiquement le genre de chose qui me semble profondément ennuyeux. Pourtant, j’ai vraiment accroché ici. J’étais aussi inquiet quant à l’aspect SFFF qui était plus ou moins mis en avant selon qui parlait de ce livre. Pour le coup, la présence des éléments fantastiques m’a suffi même si ça reste assez en retrait dans l’absolu.

J’ai été surpris de voir à quel point l’histoire paraît intemporelle d’une certaine manière. Le roman a été écrit dans les années 80 et se déroule dans les années 20, pourtant, ça ne paraît pas si daté mis à part le traitement de certaines communautés (et encore, pour un roman se passant en 1919, j’ai trouvé les personnages plutôt bienveillants malgré tout).

Je ne pourrais pas dire que j’ai spécialement apprécié les personnages : les hommes sont tous des idiots naïfs et manipulables et les femmes sont au contraire assez caractérielles et calculatrices. On n’est donc pas sur des représentations très flatteuses, mais au moins, ça n’est flatteur pour vraiment personne.

Malgré tout, j’ai passé un super moment avec ces personnages profondément imparfaits. Mon petit bémol concernerait certains des prénoms : comment est-on censé prendre au sérieux des personnages avec des noms ridicules comme Sister ou Mary-Love ?

Quoiqu’il en soit, j’ai hâte de découvrir la suite et d’en savoir plus sur le mystère qui entoure Elinor.
Profile Image for Laura.
677 reviews
January 29, 2023
Non è stato ciò che mi aspettavo leggendo la trama...
Profile Image for Cody | CodysBookshelf.
715 reviews201 followers
June 12, 2018
This was my introduction to the writing of Michael McDowell, and wow, what an experience!

The first volume in a series of six slim paperbacks, The Flood serves as an introduction to the characters of Perdido, Alabama: particularly the Caskey family and their slaves, and Elinor Dammert — a mysterious newcomer. Set in 1919, McDowell captures the essence of southern life perfectly, in all its strangeness and pettiness and peculiar beauty. I live only a couple hours north of the area the author is writing about, which was very cool. Not enough horror takes place in my neck of the woods!

This is very much a slow burn of a novel (or novella, if you prefer), with a higher priority on character development than anything else. I don’t know the last time I read about an extended family that felt this colorful and alive and memorable . . . maybe never?

A fantastic read through and through, I highly recommend this book, and I cannot wait to move on to the rest of the series. Consider me a Michael McDowell fan.
Profile Image for Jon Recluse.
381 reviews244 followers
September 12, 2014
When a deluge floods a small Alabama town, it leaves something more than river mud behind.....something unexpected.

And so begins the saga of the Caskey family, in an atmospheric tale of pure, unfiltered Southern Gothic; smooth as moonshine and slicker than red river mud.
McDowell blends small town life in the Old South with an engaging mystery, scathing social commentary that almost becomes a comedy of manners if it didn't ring so true, and a hint of the supernatural, which trickles through this tale like a rivulet of cold sweat between your shoulder blades.

It simply doesn't get much better than this.
Profile Image for Sakina.
474 reviews52 followers
August 21, 2022
J'ai du mal à évaluer mon intérêt vis-à-vis ce roman. Je ne mentirai pas : j'ai entamé cette lecture, car la couverture est magnifique (😍) et que tout le monde le lit, haha. L'intrigue et le mystère planent, mais maudit que c'est long! 😅 Ça s'en va où? Aucune idée! Je me laisse une petite pause avant de continuer la série. Ça me laisse indifférente..

(Quelle drôle de critique! 😂)
Profile Image for Chiara LibriamociBlog.
47 reviews172 followers
January 17, 2023
È impossibile farsi un’idea strutturata su questa saga leggendo solo il primo romanzo, quindi mi atterrò ai fatti.
La storia è molto semplice: in una cittadina dove personalità, ruoli e situazioni sono ben congegnate fa il suo ingresso, durante la piena una donna atipica, Elinor.
Di lei si sa molto poco, non ha documenti, dice di essere un’insegnante, ma anche di aver perso tutti i documenti e gli attestati nel corso dell’esondazione del fiume Blackwater.
Tutta la città è ammaliata dal suo modo di fare, dalla sua personalità tranne la “matrona” Mary Love, capostipite di una delle famiglie più importanti in cui la ragazza entrerà a gambatesa!
Quello che succede poi è una successione di eventi ordinari colorati e resi a tratti horror proprio da Elinor che, con poteri ancora sconosciuti e un grande legame con l’acqua, dove non riesce a manipolare scatena fenomeni a dir poco soprannaturali.
Cosa ci attende? Impossibile dirlo, direi assolutamente di tutto.
Un romanzo che si fa leggere, personaggi molto diversi ma anche molto ordinari, una prosecuzione della storia che potrebbe incanalarsi in strade impensabili ma tutte determinate dall’atipicità di Elinor.
Profile Image for Leggoromance .
224 reviews465 followers
January 21, 2023
Questo inizio di saga è davvero sorprendente
Una storia intrigante che mette le basi per una saga familiare che sembra avere molte sorprese
Sono certa che vedremo volare scintille tra le nostre due donne
Profile Image for Lou.
879 reviews852 followers
February 10, 2021
In an Alabama town there was a flood, two men on a boat came across a woman in distress stranded and saved her, eventually the floods went away. Who was Elinor Caskey? Where did she come from?
This is a intriguing story of people becoming used to Elinor and who she is. Well written and left eager to read next book.

Check out my list of under 200 pages book in a series @ https://more2read.com/review/saga-series/
Profile Image for Mag.
136 reviews7 followers
May 25, 2022
Assez déçue. Intrigue sans grande surprise. Le style est agréable néanmoins.
Profile Image for Najib.
259 reviews15 followers
July 25, 2022
Quoi dire de cette saga commençant par des inondations et une femme venue de nulle part aux pouvoirs secrets…ça donne envie de poursuivre et passer au tome 2, allons y pour voir.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 674 reviews

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