The Cypress House
Arlen Wagner has an awful gift, first discovered on the battlefields during his Army days: he sees death in the eyes of men before it strikes them. He is never wrong.
Fortunately, the haunting premonitions that plagued him in the war aren’t common back home. They aren’t, at least, until a hot Florida night in a train car bound for the Keys, when Arlen awakens to find the telltale smoke showing in every man’s eyes…
Accompanied by 19-year-old Paul Brickhill, the only person aboard who heeds his strange warnings, Arlen abandons the train. The two soon find themselves in a rural jail, then stranded at The Cypress House—a solitary tavern and boarding house located on the eerie marsh land of the Gulf Coast—right in the path of a hurricane.
The storm isn’t the only approaching danger. From the beautiful Rebecca Cady, who owns the roadhouse but seems to host no guests but those hand-picked by the local sheriff, the two men begin to suspect that a much deadlier threat may be hiding in the swamp’s shadows, circling, dead set on stopping them from ever escaping the county. From its chilling beginning to heart-pounding end, THE CYPRESS HOUSE is a story of relentless evil and unmatched suspense.
"Koryta is superb with mood and setting...the simmering tension erupts into a rolling boil by the bloody, spooky, and satisfying ending."
"Following up his acclaimed gothic, So Cold the River, Koryta blends gritty noir and ghostly visions...the novel builds to a richly satisfying climax...A commanding performance."
"Scary good...a gripping noir thriller-ghost story..."
—St. Petersburg Times
"Gothic-noir with a seamless atmospheric certainty."
"An enthralling novel that easily melds mystery fiction, the supernatural and just a touch of the old-fashioned western and historical novels without losing the conventions of each genre....Koryta continues to display masterful storytelling in each novel."
—South Florida Sun-Sentinel
"The Cypress House is a unique and entertaining blend of noir and paranormal suspense, with a tightly controlled supernatural thread as believable as the gunplay. Mr. Koryta is at the start of what will surely be a great career. He's now on my must-read list."
"One of the very best writers out there. Don't try to label him, or stick him in a genre; that would be a disservice. Just read him, and soon you'll be saying Michael Koryta is among the best there is. And even that praise falls miserably short."
"The Cypress House is a dazzling blend of suspense, the supernatural, and superb storytelling. What a gifted writer. Michael Koryta is the real deal."
—Ron Rash, author of Serena
"Michael Koryta has fashioned a great character in his reluctant prophet, Arlen Wagner, a good man who ends up with an awful lot of blood on his hands before the denouement of this deliciously dark tale. Koryta is a fantastic storyteller."
—Scott Smith, author of A Simple Plan and The Ruins
"The eerie but fascinating tale follows the efforts of the two men, along with Rebecca Cady... to survive not only the massive 1935 hurricane which caused severe death and destruction, but the human forces that ruled the area. Written with an excellent eye for describing life during the Great Depression, the novel also exhibits a deep view of human emotions... Highly recommended."
—Gloria Feit, Midwest Book Review
"You'll be hooked from the first sentence of this haunting thriller that twists like a water moccasin through the swamplands of Depression-era Florida, drenched in rain, blood, and evil. Jim Thompson noir with Stephen King spookiness."
—Neil McMahon, author of Lone Creek and L.A. Mental
“Koryta's masterful follow-up to So Cold the River effectively combines supernatural terror with the suffocating fatalism of classic American noir....Koryta excels at describing both scenery and his characters' inner landscapes. It's hard to think of another book with equal appeal to Stephen King and Cornell Woolrich fans.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Michael Koryta is mining Stephen King territory [in The Cypress House] and carving out a spot all his own.”
—Sarah Weinman, Women’s World
“Michael Koryta grabs readers with tales of gripping suspense and just enough touches of the supernatural to keep them nervous on two levels…Koryta does match King for storytelling, and he creates characters who come alive for readers…Koryta, who made the jump for crime writing to crime writing with a twist, knows how to build suspense. He paints dark and dangerous times with hurricanes and murderers threatening Wagner, Brickhill and Rebecca. His thriller is graced with masterly descriptions of the area and the pending storm that is another killer the trio must survive. In his taut and atmospheric story, Koryta keeps readers guessing right up to the end on how things will turn out, especially when Wagner begins to see the signs of death in his own face.”
—Mary Foster, Associated Press
“The second half of The Cypress House picks up steam, building to a seriously tense and twisted final act. With its evocative Gulf Coast setting, the book makes for a warm beach read in midwinter.”
—Darren Franich, Entertainment Weekly
“A healthy helping of noir crime novel, a swirl of supernatural horror, a spoonful of historical fiction, a dollop of old-time Western and a dash of finely tuned observation of the natural world. But Koryta isn't simply following a recipe. He's a creative chef, capable of crafting a dish greater than the sum of its ordinary parts. As in last year's So Cold the River, he cooks up a suspenseful treat without a lot of empty calories in The Cypress House….when it comes to plot and suspense, he knows what he's doing. He paces the novel masterfully, allowing it to steam for a while, simmer as threads from the past are added to the mix, then come to a rolling boil for the last 100 pages. When violence enters the picture, and it often does, Koryta lets the horror speak for itself rather than exploiting it. His knowledge of the Gulf Coast landscape helps with the novel's credibility but never intrudes on the action. He's especially wily in his use of the otherworldly. For most of the novel, Arlen's gift makes only the briefest of appearances: His premonitions affect the plot but don't steer it. Only when trouble washes over everyone in his world does he own up to the psychic powers inherited from his murdered father. The Cypress House proves that So Cold the River wasn't a one-hit wonder. Koryta, 29, is quickly taking his place among the top American writers of supernatural suspense.”
—Margaret Quamme, The Columbus Dispatch
“The last scenes in the novel…verify Koryta’s knack for putting a supernatural spin on the angst depicted in classic noir fiction.”
—Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review
"The Cypress House begins with pulse-racing promise….[a] delicious setup….sprinting to a filmic, white-knuckled finish.”
—Andrea Simakis, The Cleveland Plain Dealer
“It seems to me that Michael [Koryta] writes with that quantum-mechanics awareness that has long influenced my own work: the recognition that the only real thing is the present moment, where we take the actions that decide our fate, but also that the present moment is formed not only by our actions but by the past, and not only by the past but by the future....his work resonates into deeper strata than does most of what I read.”
—Dean Koontz, Book Reporter
"Michael Koryta is one of our new dynamos in the world of books, and in The Cypress House he spreads his range, wedding suspense with the supernatural in the eeriness of 1930s Florida. He uses the psychology of place to penetrate the human heart and delivers his tale of hurricanes and love and hauntings with great narrative force. Koryta's becoming a wonder we'll appreciate for a long time."
—Daniel Woodrell, author of Winter's Bone