The Cypress House By Michael Koryta

The Cypress House

By Michael Koryta

PBR Book Review:

(by- Linda ) Very easy to read and taunt with tension. The backdrop for this mystery is the Gulf coast during the depression and the mood is dark, matching the hopelessness of the era. Koryta intensifies the suspense and intrigues the mind by introducing a supernatural element; Arlen, the protagonist can see death before it happens. What I really liked about this book was the excellent chemistry between the characters and the depth of their development. Arlen is a very real mix of strength and vulnerability, which makes him very human. He struggles with accepting some painful truths about his past and grows as a person in the process.

There are also some truly evil characters that thrive on power and in true mobster style deliver packages of severed hands to those who stray from the course. In summary Michael Koryta weaves a nice story with some great dialog, however at times these engaging real life conversation slow things down. This book would appeal to those who enjoy a good mystery/thriller.

Book Club Talking Points:

For book clubs that like mysteries/thrillers with twists of plot and fate. The characters in this book have depth and change as a result their life experiences. Koryta takes the reader inside the minds of the main characters and gives them a history, which serves to make them very human. The book takes place during the depression era and the reader will take away the hopeless feeling that pervaded as well as the corruption that existed.

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*Discussion Questions

1. How does the setting-1930s Florida-affect the novel? Did it change how you identified with the characters or their experiences? Do you think human nature has changed since then? In what ways?

2. When Arlen reveals that he saw death on the train, Paul doesn't believe him at first. Has there ever been a time when you doubted someone who turned out to be telling the truth? Why? Were there any consequences because of it? What were they?

3. Rebecca Cady manages the Cypress House during a time when single women did not have the freedom they do now. Do you think her situation is a relic of another time or still relevant? Why or why not?

4. Discuss Arlen's relationship with his father. How is his father's gift related to his ability to see death before it happens? In what ways do children try to set themselves apart from their parents? Why?

5. How is Arlen a father figure to Paul? Do you think Arlen tries to distance himself from this role? Why or why not? How does it affect their friendship?

6. As one of the only women in the novel, Rebecca Cady has to live up to many expectations from the other characters and from the reader. How do the men in The Cypress House react to her? What do their actions reveal about them? Do you identify with her? Why or why not, and in what ways?

7. Why do you think Arlen pursues Rebecca after Paul expresses his love for her? Do you think he was trying to push Paul away? Have you ever had to hurt someone in order to help him or her? Were you successful?

8. Arlen, Paul, Rebecca, and Owen experience moments of denial about their family, friends, and past and present situations. What does each of them deny? Why do you think they do this?

9. Paul is on the border between childhood and manhood. How does this conflict play out in The Cypress House? Do you think he grows into adulthood by the end of the novel? Why or why not? How does he change?

10. When Arlen sets out to rescue Paul, he uses Tate McGrath's love for his sons to manipulate the man's spirit. Even though Tate is dead, his affection for his children persists. Do you think even the most evil people have the capacity to love? Discuss.

Book Summary
From the Publisher: A journey to Florida's coast becomes an inescapable nightmare in the newest supernatural thriller from international bestseller Michael Koryta. Arlen Wagner has seen it in men before--a trace of smoke in their eyes that promises imminent death. He is never wrong. When Arlen awakens on a train one hot Florida night and sees death's telltale sign in the eyes of his fellow passengers, he tries to warn them. Only 19-year-old Paul Brickhill believes him, and the two abandon the train, hoping to escape certain death. They continue south, but soon are stranded at the Cypress House--an isolated Gulf Coast boarding house run by the beautiful Rebecca Cady--directly in the path of an approaching hurricane. The storm isn't the only approaching danger, though. A much deadlier force controls the county and everyone living in it, and Arlen wants out--fast. But Paul refuses to abandon Rebecca to face the threats alone, even though Arlen's eerie gift warns that if they stay too long they may never leave. From its chilling beginning to terrifying end, The Cypress House is a story of relentless suspense from "one of the best
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