Review: The Boatman’s Daughter by Andy Davidson

Rating: 10/10

Synopsis

A “lush nightmare” (Paul Tremblay) of a supernatural thriller about a young woman facing down ancient forces in the depths of the bayou.

Ever since her father was killed when she was just a child, Miranda Crabtree has kept her head down and her eyes up, ferrying contraband for a mad preacher and his declining band of followers to make ends meet and to protect an old witch and a secret child from harm.

But dark forces are at work in the bayou, both human and supernatural, conspiring to disrupt the rhythms of Miranda’s peculiar and precarious life. And when the preacher makes an unthinkable demand, it sets Miranda on a desperate, dangerous path, forcing her to consider what she is willing to sacrifice to keep her loved ones safe.

With the heady mythmaking of Neil Gaiman and the heartrending pacing of Joe Hill, Andy Davidson spins a thrilling tale of love and duty, of loss and discovery. The Boatman’s Daughter is a gorgeous, horrifying novel, a journey into the dark corners of human nature, drawing our worst fears and temptations out into the light. 

Review

Thanks to the publisher and author for an advance reading copy of The Boatman’s Daughter for review consideration. Receiving this ARC did not influence my thoughts or opinions on the novel.

An utterly enthralling southern gothic. When it comes to gorgeous prose, not many hold a candle. This oily black piece of supernatural fiction is going to stay with me.

These are the words I tweeted out upon starting this novel and now hold even truer having finished it. Davidson’s sophomore novel is one of the best pieces of horror fiction I have ever read. Its like ‘The Shape of Water’ meets Robert McCammon’s ‘Gone South’, but oh such much more.

I knew when I put down ‘In The Valley of the Sun’ that Davidson was a special talent. His ability to not only write descriptive world-building, but completely immerse the reader in it is astounding. I could feel the humidity rising off the pages, the insects crawling over my arms, and my legs getting caught in the bog. I saw myself alongside Miranda Crabtree as she navigated the channels in her Jon Boat, cutting through the brush and undergrowth that blocked our paths.

TBD doesn’t lack for characters with a story full of drug runners, an evil old preacher, a corrupt deputy, a witch, a special boy, and of course our bow-hunting girl of the hour. Every bit of the cast is given their own voice and become unique puzzle pieces to the ultimate climax, and with that comes some of the weirdest fiction I have come across that rivals that of Gaiman. Russian fairy tales mixed with the mysteriousness of the bayou is something to behold.

Andy didn’t win a Bram Stoker Award for his debut. He looks like a shoo-in with this one. I cannot recommend The Boatman’s Daughter enough.

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