Marian Savage has died. Her son Dauphin and his wife Leigh attend the strange funeral and afterward decide the family needs a vacation at the isolated family property of Beldame. Taking vacation with them are Leigh's mother Big Barbara McCray, Leigh's brother Luker McCray and his thirteen-year-old daughter India, and family servant Odessa Red.
While the characters are richly portrayed and fully fleshed out, the story is actually about a place: Beldame. Beldame is three Victorian style houses at the end of a sand spit near Gulf Shores, a place that can only be reached at low tide because of a channel that runs between the gulf and St. Elmo's Lagoon. The McCray's stay in one house and the Savages in the other, while the third house has remained empty for years. Empty of people, perhaps, but there's something inside that third house, something thats malevolent and dangerous.
Time stands still at Beldame, where the temperature is suffocatingly hot and there's no electronic distractions such as phones or tv's or radios. As the family lounges in hammocks and works jigsaw puzzles, India becomes intrigued by the third house and the rest of her family's fear of it. But under Odessa's rather unwanted guidance, India discovers that the third house is far from benign.
This story is much more than a simple tale of a haunted house. It's creepy and deadly, and made all the more horrific from the folksy southern charm of McDowell's prose and dialogue. As the power of the third house rises, its presence becomes dangerous for the family. There's something inside that wants all of them dead, and only Odessa holds the clues to what's inside.
'The Elementals' is a languidly rich tale of horror, sinister and frightening, and occasionally gory. McDowell's writing style is addictive, and if you finish this tale wanting more, pick up 'Cold Moon Over Babylon' and his six-book Blackwater series. This is one of the best horror books, and certainly THE best haunted house book, that I've ever read. Ten Stars! I highly recommend it. Enjoy!