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Those Who Went Remain There Still
Cherie Priest
Subterranean Press, 176 pages

Those Who Went Remain There Still
Cherie Priest
Cherie Priest was born in Tampa, Florida in 1975 (the same year that gave us Saturday Night Live and the The Rocky Horror Picture Show). In 2001, she graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with an M.A. in Rhetoric/Professional writing, and she also has a B.A. in English from Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, TN.

Cherie Priest Website
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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Tammy Moore

Leitchfield is a hard, unforgiving place and those who live there are hard and unforgiving too: the Manders and the Coys. Both families are descended from sour-natured patriarch Heastor Wharton, whose brutality and venom have poisoned generations from womb to grave. Years ago John Coy escaped, heading east to New York and a community that valued his intellect instead of deriding it. When he was eighteen John's nephew, Meshack Coy, fled west to find family that wasn't dedicated to eating their own. Neither man ever planned to return to Leitchfield. Then news arrived that Heastor Wharton had finally died and all his wayward descendants are called back home for the reading of his will.

Except the old man had one last malicious trick to play on his kin.

There was an old cave on the edge of Wharton's lands. People called it the Witch's Pit and it had an evil reputation. Years before, Meshack's sister, the strange, mad Winnter, had gone into the cave and never came back out. They never found her body. According to the instructions Heastor had left with his daughter, his last will and testament was hidden somewhere in the cave. If his family wanted their inheritance, they'd just have to go and find it.

Six men went down into the cave. What they found down there was far worse than any of them could have imagined. A secret seeded there by Daniel Boone himself during the early days of the frontier and left to fester for nearly two centuries.

Heastor Wharton's legacy to his children is a dark one.

Those Who Went Remain There Still is more of a folk tale than a modern horror novel. The existence of the monster is never explained or justified. We never find out what the monster is, where it came from or what it wants. Like an elephant, it just is and the story is how people deal with it.

Within that framework, Cherie Priest has written an engaging story that draws strongly from the tradition of American Folklore. (It was inspired, in fact, by an old family legend that was passed down to her.) The story itself is straightforward enough, there were few surprising elements to the plot, but the most notable element of the novel is how deftly Cherie Priest sketched in the characters. From Daniel Boone himself to briefly seen characters such as Granny Gail and Winnter, the people in the novel are all vivid and believable. It's Priest's ability at crafting distinct "voices" for her characters that helped make the three first person narratives in the novel work. It can be difficult to maintain each "voice" as distinct and identifiable, however Priest manages it successfully.

I also found that her narrative captured both the time period and the culture of the area, managing to be both unsentimental and affectionate about the people and their experiences.

There were a few elements to the novel that didn't quite gel for me. In particular, Winnter's subplot seemed completely extraneous to the overall story that Priest was telling and was never really resolved. If it hadn't been included, little would have changed. It just didn't feel as well-crafted as the rest of the story.

Those Who Went Remain There Still is an enjoyable read that explores an interesting time period.

Copyright © 2009 Tammy Moore

Tammy Moore is a speculative fiction writer based in Belfast. She writes reviews for Verbal Magazine, Crime Scene NI and Green Man Review. Her first book The Even -- written by Tammy Moore and illustrated by Stephanie Law -- is to be published by Morrigan Books September 2008.

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