Halcyon by Rio Youers
My own copy
Nightmarishly compelling and flawlessly told horror for fans of Paul Tremblay and Joe Hill.
Halcyon is the answer for all Americans who want to escape, but paradise isn’t what it seems. A beautiful self-sustaining community made up of people who want to live without fear, crime, or greed, Halcyon is run by Valerie Kemp, aka Mother Moon, benevolent and altruistic on the outside, but hiding an unimaginable darkness inside. She has dedicated her life to the pursuit of Glam Moon, a place of eternal beauty and healing. And she believes the pathway there can only be found at the end of pleasure.
On the heels of tragedy, Martin Lovegrove moves his family to Halcyon. A couple of months, he tells himself, to retreat from the chaos and grind. He soon begins to suspect there is something beneath Halcyon’s perfect veneer and sets out to discover the truth, however terrible it might be, behind the island and its mysterious founder.
I became aware of Rio Youers via the social media posts of Christopher Golden. I then saw a blurb on Halcyon from one of my author faves Sarah Pinborough. So, I knew I HAD to have this novel. I knew it would be dark and it is well, well, well, with the remit of the horror genre. But crikey bobs was I ill prepared! There were moments of just having to put it down, simply because it is so intense.
I also found myself re-laying the whole plot to my husband (he is a non-reader, I know, it is gross! Lol). My husband was in complete agreement with me, that this would make an incredibly sinister horror movie.
There are moments where it briefly reminded me of the TV show the American Horror Story and also elements of the true crimes of Charlie Manson.
It is that INTENSE!!!!! But it is AWESOME!
The novel opens with 10yr old Edith Lovegrove and her sister Shirley (15yrs). We become aware Edith is experiencing extreme night terrors. Her parents are unsure if this is a phase or if there is something more sinister to this. I immediately suspected that she was gifted, but is this a talent for good or bad?
‘The man with no hands is crying’ – Edith
There is a backstory of Garrett Riley, who will become the infamous ‘Buffalo Bomber’. We learn of his dark and troubled past and what made him perceptible to the brainwashing of a cult with an ulterior agenda etc.
When Edith’s parents watch footage of the bombing on live TV. They witness a man with no hands crying.
It is then, that they come to believe Edith may harbour a gift for premonitions.
They contact various psychics and mediums and attempt to understand the world that Edith sees. But how do you navigate a world known for its charlatans and liars?
The Edith has visions of her mother’s death!!!!!!
Edith’s mother is the victim of a fatal school shooting massacre. It is then that Martin Lovegrove, the girls now widowed father starts to become disillusioned with life in modern day America. He starts seeking alternative ways of existing and he seeks peace. Time to grieve and to heal.
‘A better America’
This is how Martin is lured to the island of Halcyon. A hippie commune that promises peace in a tranquil location away from the constraints of a modern day and the relentless sufferings etc.
As much as I did feel this was a ‘sanctuary or suicide’ mission. I could completely empathise with Martin’s need for escape. After all, who of us doesn’t just want to often retreat from the world and live in a cabin in the woods etc.
*We might feel safer in doing so, if we don’t take Rio Youer’s novels lol
At Halcyon there is a matriarch type character, called Mother Moon. Shirley instantly bonds with her and despite her initial reluctance accepts their new way of life. Edith however, is not so easily convinced. Is this her gift? Or her angst/jealousy? This is a young girl with no mother, now feeling she is losing her older sister to the leader.
‘Education develops a woman. Always. Tribulation is different. It can unravel her, or give her armour’ – Mother Moon
The idea is for an introduction period of six weeks at Halcyon and if they want to leave at the end, they can with no problems whatsoever. Something Martin doesn’t see a huge issue with. He is persistently warned via his friend Jimmy, about the reputation of such ‘retreats’. Nevertheless, the family arrive and become settled.
What happens at Halcyon, stays at Halcyon.
I will not be telling anymore, of this story! Just know that it is gripping and horror-filled!
When Mother Moon’s backstory is finally revealed, my jaw was on the floor!!!!!!
WOW, JUST WOW!