Those Who Went Remain There Still
175 pp. Subterranean Press. $25.00
Pub. Date: 1/1/2009
Reviewed by Paul Stotts
Grab your coonskin cap, you
Cherie Priest delves into the mythology surrounding Daniel Boone in Those Who Went Remain There Still, carving out a little piece for herself in order to tell a self-proclaimed cheesy little monster story. If this is cheesy, it’s a beautifully baked six cheese extravaganza. A three Michelin star dish of mac and cheese. Yummy and absolutely satisfying. A rare monster story in which—brace yourself—the monster is actually scary.
Most monsters remain scary as long as they’re unseen. Only bumping in the night, and not cavorting in the daylight. Like the shark in Jaws. Once revealed the fright factor plummets. Like Daniel Boone, the reality isn’t as sexy as the myth. But the monster in Those Who Went Remain There Still is revealed early, and remains scary throughout. Getting even more fearsome near the end. Becoming a creature you really wouldn’t want to run into in a dark cave. Especially if you want to keep the contents of your colon out of your pants.
But that’s just what the novel’s protagonists do—run into the creature in a dark cave. Bad spot of luck there, but it makes for fun reading. Whether trouser jelly is made, Priest remains mum.
In 1775, Daniel Boone and his crew of rugged ax-swingers are storming through
In 1899, Heaster Wharton—the patriarch of the feuding Mander and Coy clans—dies. His will and last testament lies hidden in a cave on the outskirts of his property. Three representatives each from both the Mander and Coy families are enlisted to enter the cave to search for Heaster’s will. Deep down in the bowels of the cave the group discovers a terrifying secret. A vengeful secret. A secret that nearly killed Daniel Boone.
There’s an old saying that once you’ve left a place, you can’t go back home again. Like you can’t step into the same river twice. Things change, places change. You change. And going back is never the same. Priest takes this idea even further—maybe going back may mean never coming back. Or those who went remain there still.
Going home and rediscovering your roots after years away is a significant theme in the novel. Those Who Went Remain There Still is told from three separate points of view: Daniel Boone in 1775, and Meshack Coy and John Coy both in 1899. Both Meshack and John are living elsewhere—
The characters are fascinating, and the interplay between the two storylines drives the narrative. Intense and addictive, the novel is like an out of control eighteen-wheeler barreling down a steep grade, filled with heart-stopping jolts and scary bumps. Priest never lets up on the gas, and never veers away. Always pushing forward, always at breakneck speeds. And we sit enthralled, a Cheshire-cat smile on our face, clapping with joy, overwhelmed and thrilled to our core.
Those Who Went Remain There Still was my introduction to Cherie Priest. I guarantee I’ll be reading more of her cheesy little monster stories in the future, because this is a monster story with teeth. Big, nasty teeth dripping with gore. A set of glistening chompers that’d make Nosferatu jealous. This is a horror story masterfully written, unique in its setting and brilliant in its execution. And one of the top books of the year.
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