National Book Award winner Ann Arensberg brings readers a modern horror story about evil descending on an insular Maine town
It begins with the theft of six candles from the church altar, a few herbs found strewn in the local graveyard. In the summer of 1974, the prosperous farming community of Dry Falls, Maine, is hit by a brutal heat wave. Crops fail. Drought blights once-verdant lawns. Men inexplicably lose all interest in sex, while women complain of erotic nocturnal visitations. Farm animals give birth to monstrosities. An unholy, unimaginable force is disrupting the natural order—and it seems to be specifically targeting Dry Falls.
Narrated by the careful and practical Cora Whitman, wife of the town pastor, this tale of creeping strangeness quickly turns sinister. Incubus subtly builds to its shattering climax with Cora at its epicenter. Expertly interweaving themes of faith, religion, and marriage with that of the supernatural, this modern horror classic will enthrall fans of Ann Arensberg and attract a legion of new readers.
A tale of shape-changers and exorcism written with intelligence, restraint and style, Arensberg's compelling third novel (Sister Wolf; Group Sex) is another impressive example of this talented writer's work. In the summer of 1974, the town of Dry Falls, Maine, is subjected to a heat wave and drought that is so carefully circumscribed it doesn't even appear on the state's local weather maps. Even more disturbing evidence ensues of nature imbalanced, including a lack of sexual drive among the town's male inhabitants and cows that give birth to deformed calves, among other unusual events. Dr. Henry W. Lieber, Dry Falls's Episcopal priest and a man whose faith is fast fading, obsessively records each new incident, seeking signs of the supernatural. Cora Whitman, Dr. Lieber's wife and author of a weekly food column, is the skeptical narrator of this unsettling chronicle; this is a savvy move by Arensberg, as Cora's skepticism always precedes the reader's suspicions. Yet Cora comes to believe in the existence of a demon who disturbs women's sleep and, in fact, rapes the women of Dry Falls. But what this entity is, why it's attracted to this town and these women who know their herbs but practice no witchcraft--these are bones the readers of this beautifully written and carefully crafted novel can gnaw. Despite the rapture of the tale, Arensberg's greatest gifts here are not the plot or the research supporting her tale of the occult, but her precise insight into character and the portrayal of the workings of a small community, the life of a pastor and his wife and a marriage in many seasons. BOMC selection.