Paperback: 316 pages
Publisher: ECW Press (March 17, 2015)
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.
Buy, read, and discuss Cauchemar
Alexandra Grigorescu has a Master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Toronto, where she attended writing workshops led by George Elliott Clark and Jeff Parker and wrote her thesis under the guidance of Camilla Gibb. She works as a freelance writer and lives in Toronto, Ontario.
Connect with Alexandra
When my husband asked me what it was that kept me in the bathtub reading until I’d turned into a prune, I told him it was a novel called Cauchemar, and that it was a sort of spooky, supernatural coming-of-age story that was both beautiful and haunting.
The story itself, Hannah’s story, is compelling: a young woman loses the maternal figure (not her biological mother) whom she’s lived with for most of her life, and is forced to face her family history, her mother’s reputation, and her actual mother while she tries to find herself.
Hannah’s love interest, Callum, reminded me of every working musician I ever dated before I got married. He’s not a superstar, he’s the kind of guy who plays gigs and has a couple groupies and is happy to share a beer after the show – but then he meets Hannah.
It could have been a perfunctory love story with a young woman, and an older (but not OLD), more experienced man, but author Alexandra Grigorescu mixes in a bayou setting, a dash of supernatural intrigue, and enough music and cookery to fill anyone’s plate. Even better, she does it well: you can hear the rippling of the river, the buzzing of the mosquitoes. You can smell the herbs in Hannah’s cooking, feel the way Callum’s music thrums through the floorboards, and, if you’re really receptive, you might even convince yourself you’ve seen something spooky out of the corner of your eye.
What I love about Grigorescu’s prose is that it’s lush and hearty, with enough vivid description to really give you a sense of place, but without any affectation. Likewise, her dialogue seems appropriate for a small town in the American south, with each character having a distinct voice that never detracts from the work as a whole.
For me, personally, an added benefit was that this story hit me in the sweet spot of my amygdala, the one that makes the spooky stuff seem spookier and the romantic parts seem even more romantic. I finished the novel sitting up in bed in the middle of the night, because I HAD to finish the story before I could sleep.
This is Alexandra Grigorescu’s debut novel, and I’m a little worried that she won’t be able to top it when she produces her second book, because it hits all the right notes (musical and foodie), and leaves you satisfied but willing to have more.
Goes well with Fresh-caught fish, gumbo, and sweet tea.
This review is part of a blog tour sponsored by the publisher, ECW Press. For the complete list of tour stops, see below. For more information, click HERE. For a guest post from the author, Alexandra Grigorescu, click HERE.
MARCH 1: Review and giveaway at The Book Binder’s Daughter
MARCH 2: Review and guest post at Bibliotica (That’s ME!)
MARCH 3: Review and excerpt at Bella’s Bookshelves
MARCH 4: Guest post at Write All the Words! for their International Women’s Week feature
MARCH 5: Interview and excerpt at Editorial Eyes
MARCH 7: Review at Lavender Lines
MARCH 9: Review at Svetlana’s Reads
MARCH 10: Review and interview at The Book Stylist
MARCH 11: Review, guest post, and giveaway at Booking it with Hayley G
MARCH 12: Guest Post at Dear Teen Me
MARCH 13: Review and giveaway at The Book Bratz
MARCH 14: Interview and excerpt at Feisty Little Woman