I picked up Interlands: A Tale of the Supernatural, by Vincent H. O’Neil (2013, Vincent O-Neil), while searching on Amazon.com through its abundant selection of Kindle eBooks. When I learned that story takes place in Providence, Rhode Island, I had to read the book for two purely selfish reasons. For one, a large part of my family lives in the state (I feel the connection to place), and two, the synopsis screams of Lovecraft.
Angie Morse, a graduate student of history at a Providence college, is trying to make a name for herself. She’s finished her coursework, but she’s looking for that one unique find that will get the attention of billionaire historian Oliver Price, who funds experts like her to explore the world in search of the existence of lost places and forgotten lore. For such a treasured position, Angie will risk anything. Using an old photograph, historical documentation, and local folklore, Angie explores the area around Providence in search of an ancient obelisk once worshiped by early settlers, feared by Native Americans, and ultimately destroyed by the authorities.
The folklore about the obelisk is unsettling, perhaps even satanic, but it’s the find she needs to get Price’s attention. Along the way, Angie discovers the obelisk may have modern worshipers—friends and acquaintances whose motives are deceitful. As she slowly unravels the mystery surrounding the obelisk, we learn the truth—all that we can know—about its history and its worshipers.
The book has multiple strengths, but O’Neil’s ability to develop credible characters is the best. I found myself emotionally connected with Angie; In her quest for the obelisk, she is often alone in the woods, at home, at the library, or in public. The descriptions of Providence and the surrounding woods and in Angie’s movements are so superb that I feel her fear, her dread, her sorrow, her confusion, and her anger as she desperately searches for the obelisk. I want her to succeed on many levels.
O’Neil’s other characters are strong, too. The neighbor, who looks out for Angie, and who once experienced something strange in the woods, too; The former roommate who we learn about through Angie’s thoughts and memories, and later, in a phone call; The research assistant, who appears to want more than just a work relationship with Angie, but who also seems like he might be working against her; Her therapist, who went mad while looking out his window, and who might have been her lover; Her many encounters with local folks and somewhat creepy acquaintances in her search for the obelisk.
The story starts a little slow, but it’s engaging from the start—another plus for O’Neil. Angie is on her way to the woods in search of the obelisk, thinking about finishing her master’s degree and the possibility of working for Oliver Price. At the same time, she considers the evidence she’s collected. Strong Lovecraftian themes are present throughout the story, most notably cosmicism, and in the end, a few unanswered questions. Lovecraft fans won’t be disappointed. I found the book to be so engaging that I stopped everything and read it from start to finish in one day. I enjoyed it. Lovecraftians, fans of the supernatural, and readers who like solving puzzles should read Interlands: A Tale of the Supernatural. You won’t be disappointed.
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