Kenneth Tyler and his sister Corrie had reason to suspect something was wrong with their father's burial. So, by boldly wresting atrocious secrets out of ostensibly sacred graves, the teens discover that their corner of Tennessee is ripe with grotesque horrors. Early evidence of something wicked points to the town's undertaker, Fenton Breece, and when the Tylers discover a collection of photographs trading cards from the River Styx, picture postcards mailed from Hell they are prepared to confront Breece about his perverted and twisted soul.
Breece, though, is not about to tolerate the Tylers' excoriating accusations. To silence the meddlesome youngsters, Breece turns to Granville Sutter, a sadistic killer who has previously been indicted for murder but acquitted by frightened juries. Corrie, a believer in signs and portents, remains implacable as stone, but Kenneth worries that she may not withstand the escalating intimidations. As for Kenneth, he suddenly finds himself on the run. With the misfit Sutter on his trail, Kenneth disappears into the Harrikin, a neighboring wilderness of abandoned mines, faded roads and eccentric squatters.
As Kenneth ventures ever deeper into the Harrikin, he feels more and more removed from the presumed protection of so-called civilization and the grace of an apparently disinterested God who is busily reading an old hymnbook or maybe a seed catalog, though the boy comes closer to learning how to survive in an increasingly chaotic world. Yet the problem remains: Sutter is never far behind.
In his third novel, Twilight, Tennessee author William Gay once again delivers Southern gothic writing at its gut-wrenching, frightening best. Mythic in scope and provocative in lyrical power, the highly recommended Twilight is one of those novels you will not soon forget, one that you will favorably compare to the very best of William Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor and Erskine Caldwell. Tim Davis teaches literature at the University of West Florida.