Sons and Brothers (Legends of the Family Dyer), by David W. Thompson is a compelling horror tale that is well-written, but may be hard to fully follow if you have not read the earlier installments of the trilogy. Although I have some personal issues and quibbles, if you can buy into the premises and enjoy this supernatural/magic/horror genre, you will find it an enjoyable read.
This book is the third and final installment of a trilogy and I did not read the first two installments. The blurb for the book says that this story stands on its own, and to some extent it does. But, you may miss the significance of events and references to characters. I had forgotten what the blurb said by the time I started reading, and going back to it later I see that I missed a lot.
The story is on one level a horror tale – a ghost story to be told around a camp fire in the woods. In fact, the story includes a ghost story actually told to the group of old and young hunters in a mountain lodge. The horror includes a young boy who is possessed by the spirit of a long dead distant relative, who seeks to reconcile with his lost love. The events at the mountain hunting lodge are at times suspenseful and gruesome, but at other times a bit forced and lacking in continuity, but they do keep the reader’s attention and induce continued reading to get to the ending. On another level, the book is about a young girl who is part Native American and who relies upon mysticism and astral projection to connect with her ancestors and to “see” events happening on that haunted mountain. She, and her two nubile friends, are drawn into the adventure and all its peril. The love story is secondary, but it consumes a fair amount of the book.
There are elements of the storytelling here that I’m not in love with, including many (many) dream sequences, both in the traditional sense and of the self-induced trance kind. At times it is difficult to keep straight what is “real” and what is a dream or vision, and there is a constant series of whispers in the ears of the main characters from the ghosts of the past. The final ambiguity about the nature of the events was also annoying rather than (as I expect was the intent) thought-provoking. There is also a sloppiness and rushed feeling to the final sequences, with many unresolved questions and disconnects of reality in what was supposed to be the real events (as opposed to dreams). Still, it is a riveting story, despite the flaws.
The book is remarkably well edited, and contains some exquisite prose. The author gives us colorful and vivid details about the adventure, and even though the beginning is a bit slow and the real plot does not become apparent until fairly late in the story, the narrative and the quality of the writing make the early character development tolerable.
In the end, If you like horror tales and if you like the supernatural/magical foundation for the story — and particularly the idea of communication with the spirits of long-dead relatives– you will enjoy this book. Even if you don’t generally go for these kinds of themes, the story is interesting enough and well-written enough to be worth your time.