It is the summer of 1874, and nine years since the end of the American Civil War. An ex-preacher named Silas Flood sets out in search of The Yellow House - allegedly a hotbed of supernatural phenomena in the titular Vermont mountain town of Moriah.
It's a relatively simple premise, but it's the execution of it which makes Moriah the captivating, haunting book it is. A mishmash of perspectives, each with its own distinct voice, lends an almost filmic quality to the narrative; it's almost possible to sit back and imagine the story being recounted directly to the reader, and imbued with the primary emotion each narrative demands: Flood's solemn, regretful melancholy, Ambrose's confused, almost childlike sense of fear, and the jaw-clenching anger bubbling inside of Thaddeus.
A fascinating cast of characters make the story which, at its heart, is about ghosts. Not only the traditional, spiritual kind but the kind that live inside of us: Mrs. Ambler's regret, vividly recounted by the enigmatic woman herself, the powerful grief of the Bauers. The secret tragedy carried by Silas Flood himself, all of whom have come to The Yellow House ostensibly in search of spirits; the hope that they may speak, through the power of the Lynch brothers, with those they have lost. There is Ambrose Lynch, who speaks with spirits and seeks solace in a mysterious girl he calls Spring Willow, and taciturn Thaddeus Lynch, upon whose shoulders rests the fate of the Yellow House and all who reside there. And then there’s Sally, the youngest of the Lynches, whose concerns are resolutely corporeal but no less disturbing.
Moriah is a ghost story, then, but more than that, it is a story about people. It is about secrets, and how they destroy us. It's a resolutely gothic tale, with an undercurrent of distinctly American religious terror - both alien to me as a heathen Brit and compellingly horrific, especially in the context of the Lynches brutal, authoritarian father.
In his capacity as journalist, Flood sets out to investigate and report on the strange goings-on at the Yellow House. But when the dead begin to talk, it soon becomes apparent that the provenance of their voices matters far less than what they have to say.
Silas Flood is a broken man in a broken country. Nine years have passed since the end of the American Civil War and Flood is helpless to escape its shadow.
In the summer of 1874, he is dispatched to the mountain village of Moriah, Vermont to investigate sensational claims of supernatural happenings. There the brothers Thaddeus and Ambrose Lynch are said to converse with spirits and summon the dead.
As Flood investigates the true nature of these phenomena, and the difference between the hauntings of the living and the dead, he must first come to terms with his own past and with the hold it has upon him—before he can behold the mysteries of the other side.