An eerie and romantic Southern gothic drama
Gripping, fast-paced, gorgeously written, and with unforgettable characters, Cauchemar tells the story of 20-year-old Hannah, who finds herself living alone on the edge of a Louisianan swamp after her adopted mother and protector dies. Hannah falls in love with Callum, an easy-going boat captain and part-time musician, but after her mysterious birth mother, outcast as a witch and rumoured to commune with the dead, comes back into Hannah’s life, she must confront what she’s been hiding from - the deadly spirits that haunt the swamp, the dark secrets of her past, and the nascent gift she possesses. Like the nightmares that plague Hannah, Cauchemar lingers and haunts.
An eerie, otherworldly unease permeates Grigorescu's debut novel. From the moment 20-year-old Hannah discovers the body of Mae, her adoptive mother, her life shifts into a spirit realm from which Mae had long tried to shield her. Their secluded house on the marsh has been about separation and safety separation from her birth mother, Christobelle, whose dealings with the dead are heavily feared and hated in town, and safety from those who would hurt Hannah based on the harm they believe Christobelle has done to their families. When Hannah meets Callum, a boat captain and musician, she finds a comfort and companionship that she sorely lacked, but as they grow closer and Hannah becomes pregnant, inexplicable events constantly occur around them. The cast of characters (whose trustworthiness the reader and Hannah should constantly question), the Louisiana setting, the unnatural goings-on in the marsh, and black magic's domineering presence all feed the novel's Southern gothic nature. Grigorescu grabs readers with a sense of foreboding at the start and builds intense tension as she leads them into a haunting place where the lines between dream and reality, living and dead, blur and hypnotize.