Church of Dead Girls

Church of Dead Girls

4.3 17
by Stephen Dobyns
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

For decades, the faded, rural upstate New York village has lain dormant—until it is startlingly stirred to life wen, one by one, three young girls vanish...

Nightmare are turned into horrifying reality when their corpses are found, brutally murdered, each missing their left hand...

Now, as the search for a madman gets underway, suspicion shrouds the quiet

…  See more details below

Overview

For decades, the faded, rural upstate New York village has lain dormant—until it is startlingly stirred to life wen, one by one, three young girls vanish...

Nightmare are turned into horrifying reality when their corpses are found, brutally murdered, each missing their left hand...

Now, as the search for a madman gets underway, suspicion shrouds the quiet streets of Aurelius when its residents soon realize that monster lives amongst them...

But no even prayers can save their loved ones from the rage of a twisted mind who has only just begun his slaughter...

Editorial Reviews

bn.com
The successive disappearances of three young girls rip a small town in New York's Hudson Valley from its Currier & Ives tranquillity and turn it into a hotbed of paranoia and suspicion. Think Thornton Wilder if he'd written Our Town with Richard Speck.

—Rick Koster

Publishers Weekly - Cahners\\Publishers_Weekly
In a gripping prologue to this masterful psychological thriller, Dobyns creates an unforgettable scene: in an attic shrine, the bodies of three dead girls are tied to chairs; all have had their left hands cut off. Aurelius, the town in upstate New York where this bizarre discovery is made, is the kind of place where everyone knows everyone else. As the narrative gains momentum, Dobyns brilliantly chronicles the gradual ripping away of all trust and familiarity within the community. Everyone seems guilty, even the fussy high-school science teacher who relates the events leading up to the disappearances of the three girls. Paramount in everyone's mind is the recent return to Aurelius of Aaron McNeal, a young troublemaker whose mother, Janice, was murdered years earlier. The belated revelation that Janice's left hand had been severed, too, signals that her murderer is still at large. The citizens of Aurelius begin to see each other by the dark light of potential guilt. In a story full of brilliant touches, Dobyns, who writes the Saratoga Mystery series, shows how the support group for the family of the first victim metamorphoses into a vigilante patrol that witch-hunts Aurelius into a state of paranoid terror. In the end, this chiller is about the awful power of fear. When the people of Aurelius go looking for a monster, monsters are all they can see.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In a gripping prologue to this masterful psychological thriller, Dobyns creates an unforgettable scene: in an attic shrine, the bodies of three dead girls are tied to chairs; all have had their left hands cut off. Aurelius, the town in upstate New York where this bizarre discovery is made, is the kind of place where everyone knows everyone else. As the narrative gains momentum, Dobyns brilliantly chronicles the gradual ripping away of all trust and familiarity within the community. Everyone seems guilty, even the fussy high-school science teacher who relates the events leading up to the disappearances of the three girls. Paramount in everyone's mind is the recent return to Aurelius of Aaron McNeal, a young troublemaker whose mother, Janice, was murdered years earlier. The belated revelation that Janice's left hand had been severed, too, signals that her murderer is still at large. The citizens of Aurelius begin to see each other by the dark light of potential guilt. In a story full of brilliant touches, Dobyns, who writes the Saratoga Mystery series, shows how the support group for the family of the first victim metamorphoses into a vigilante patrol that witch-hunts Aurelius into a state of paranoid terror. In the end, this chiller is about the awful power of fear. When the people of Aurelius go looking for a monster, monsters are all they can see. 60,000 first printing; $75,000 ad/ promo; BOMC, QPB alternates; film rights to HBO; foreign rights sold to Fischer in Germany and Penguin UK. (June) FYI: The publishers are circulating a letter from Stephen King praising the novel and connecting it to one of Dobyns's poems, "The Town," collected in the volume Cemetery Nights.
Library Journal
Despite the lurid title, Dobyns's latest novel (he is a poet and author of the "Saratoga" mystery series) is a compelling mystery that shows how the people in a small town change because of a series of murders. First, a promiscuous woman is murdered. Then three girls disappear in succession. The narrator reports how the symptoms of fear escalate into a raging disease consuming the community. Cloaking prejudice and fear with righteousness, certain citizens target individuals who are on the community's fringe. By the story's end, no one escapes suspicion. Many characters and the complexities of human interactions receive well-rounded treatment. This absorbing tale, fit for any general collection, is highly recommended.Michelle Foyt, Fairfield P.L., Ct.
Kirkus Reviews
A brisk dip into the ice-cold waters of schizophrenia, nymphomania, and serial murder, by the author of Saratoga Fleshpot (1995), etc.

Aurelia, New York, is one of those pleasant little towns that you need a good reason to visit and none at all to leave. Situated somewhere in the vicinity of Utica, it has been losing jobs and people for most of the last 50 years. But of late these disappearances have become increasingly macabre. People are horrified to discover Janice McNeal, the town floozy, murdered in her own home, while the amputation of her left hand—presumably as a souvenir—adds an especially grisly touch to an already-repugnant tableau. Janice's son Aaron is naturally disturbed by these events, but he himself begins to arouse more suspicion than sympathy when he chews off a classmate's ear during a lunchroom argument that gets out of hand. And, in rapid succession, three young girls vanish inexplicably, with no trace save the bundles of their clothing that mysteriously appear soon after their disappearance. Just what is going on? Much of the suspicion is directed toward a Marxist study group at the local college, although a vigilante bunch comprised of local rednecks also come to be suspect. Aaron, meanwhile, with his brooding fury and strange charisma, is not the weirdest guy in town by a long shot. The unnamed narrator, a high- school biology teacher, also secretly keeps a collection of nasty objects submerged in formaldehyde to impress his favorite pupils. The solution to the mystery comes at the end of a long trail of blood and perversity that might well have been worked out in a collaboration between John Webster and Grace Metalious.

A vivid and deeply scary tale, then, that ultimately becomes too relentless: Dobyns needs to follow Poe's lead rather than Stephen King's and save the scariest bits for the end.

San Francisco Chronicle
“A chilling evocation of small-town life turned upside down. Dobyns delivers the goods.”
The New York Times Book Review
“A complex parable of social disintegration…Dobyns’sad a disquieting novel carries a contemporary moral, true in even the smallest American towns.”
Stephen King
“Long after most other tales of murder and insanity have panted to their foregone conclusions, the suspense in this tale continues to build.The Church of Dead Girlsis a meditation on hysteria, immensely ambitious, but Dobyns tells the tale with thte calm—and the fearful inevitability—of a man walking down a long hotel corridor to a room where some awful thing is waiting. Best of all? He never pulls up or turns aside—I kept reading, riveted by the plot and rooting with all my heart for Dobyns to pull it off. And he did, in a terrifying climax. I don’t expect to read a more frightening novel this year. Very rich, very scary, very satisfying.”

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312977368
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
05/15/2001
Pages:
432
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.09(d)

What People are saying about this

Stephen King
If ever there was a tale for a moonless night, a high wind, and a creaking floor, this is it…Very rich, very scary, very satisfying.

Meet the Author

Stephen Dobyns is the author of more than thirty novels and poetry collections, including The Church of Dead Girls, Cold Dog Soup, and Cemetery Nights. Among his many honors are a Melville Cane Award, Pushcart prizes, a National Poetry Series prize, and three National Endowment for the Arts fellowships. His novels have been translated into twenty languages, and his poetry has appeared in the Best American Poetry anthology. Dobyns, who has taught at the University of Iowa and Sarah Lawrence College, teaches creative writing at Warren Wilson College.

Actor George Newbern has appeared in Father of the Bride, Father of the Bride II, Evening Star, Adventures in Babysitting, and many other films. On television, he has had roles on Scandal, Friends, Nip/Tuck, Hot in Cleveland, CSI, and more. George is also known for providing the voice of Superman in Justice League.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >