Book Review: Gideon

Published By: Harper Voyager
Publication Date: January 6, 2015
Page Count: 432
Source: Kindly Provided by Publisher
Adult - Mystery, Urban Fantasy

When Lauren’s father dies, she finds out that he was not what he seemed. After some bizarre encounters with the supernatural, she follows the trail of her father’s previous life back to the small Illinois town of Gideon where he spent his teen years. Despite being populated by followers of The Lady, witches committed to the protection of mankind, an old evil lurks in the town waiting to be released. 

The most striking thing about this novel is the atmosphere that Gordon evokes with her writing. The town of Gideon rests under a cloud of gloom and dismal uncertainty that seeps out of the pages to envelop the reader. The inhabitants of the town are suspicious and discourage visits by outsiders, and both Lauren and, by extension, the reader are made to feel unwelcome. Which sounds like a bad thing, but honestly it works for this story. Reading it made me feel murky, hazy, and like I was right there with Lauren. 

There were just a couple of things that bugged me about this book. First, Lauren accepted the supernatural with a great deal of aplomb. Despite an extremely disturbing visit from what I will describe as a malevolent presence, she carries on with very little reaction to the event. I felt like either Lauren should have had a much more negative reaction, or at least noticed and remarked on her surprisingly steady reaction. 

I also found the generational politics of Gideon a bit confusing. Whether a hundred years ago or in the present, much of the trouble in town could have been avoided if folks had actually listened to each other. I don’t know if that’s what small-town life is really like, or if Gordon used that as a short-cut to drive some of the conflict, but it made some of the plot of the book feel contrived. I also found myself wondering if there were other communities of The Lady’s followers. Why did the citizens of Gideon who were concerned not contact other followers for backup, or at least a neutral, third-party opinion of what was happening? 

One final note. Gordon often refers to her characters by their last name which I found somewhat off-putting. My guess is that, like me, most readers are better at remembering first names of characters than last names. It may have been a conscious choice intended to keep distance between the reader and the denizens of Gideon, but at times it became confusing especially where brother/sister characters were involved.

Preston & Child meets Kim Harrison in this edge-of-your-seat debut thriller—a superb blend of mystery, urban fantasy, horror, romance, and the supernatural.

When Lauren’s father dies, she makes a shocking discovery. The man she knew as John Reardon was once a completely different person, with a different name. Now, she’s determined to find out who he really was, even though her only clues are an old photograph, some letters, and the name of a town—Gideon.

But someone—or something—doesn’t want her to discover the truth. A strange man is stalking her, appearing everywhere she turns, and those who try to help her end up dead. Neither a shadowy enemy nor her own fear are going to prevent her from solving the mystery of her father—and unlocking the secrets of her own life.

Making her way to Gideon, Lauren finds herself more confused than ever. Nothing in this small Midwestern town is what it seems, including time itself. Residents start going missing, and Lauren is threatened by almost every townsperson she encounters. Two hundred years ago, a witch was burned at the stake, but in Gideon, the past feels all too chillingly present . . .