Dry Spell
Susie Moloney
book reviews:
· general fiction
· chick lit/romance
· sci-fi/fantasy
· graphic novels
· nonfiction
· audio books

Click here for the curledup.com RSS Feed

· author interviews
· children's books @
· DVD reviews @

win books
buy online


for authors
& publishers

for reviewers

click here to learn more

Get *A Dry Spell* delivered to your door! A Dry Spell

Susie Moloney
Delacorte Press/Bantam
385 pages
October 1997
rated 3 of 5 possible stars

previous reviewnext review

Susie Moloney has said that she considers Stephen King her mentor, thanks to encounters with his writing if not the man. Publicists for her and her second novel, A Dry Spell, claim an early-King flavor to her prose. Indeed, you will find little King-isms in this book, right down to the ubiquitous "that kind of thing only happened in Stephen King novels" statement by a character trying to come to grips with a world gone less than sane. Moloney never manages to attain that level of chilling, goosepimple terror that King instills in his best works, but her style and story are serviceable enough to appeal to the more skittish Curled Up With a Good Book horror reader. A Dry Spell is close enough to the mainstream/genre edge that it should even draw a few suspense-fiction readers with a better-than-average ability to suspend disbelief.

Karen Grange is a banker with an unforgivable character flaw for one in her profession: she's a shopaholic. After miring herself in the bog of over-extended credit, she finds herself banished to manage a small bank in the sticks. But she comes to see her exile to Goodlands, North Dakota, as a salvation rather than a punishment. She gets her spending under control and begins to find a contentment as a member of this quiet little farming community that she could never find as just another face in the city. Her happiness is short-lived, for Goodlands is laid seige by a four-year drought that leaves Karen in the despised position of the bank mouthpiece bringing dreaded news of foreclosure to an increasing number of the generational farmers of Goodlands. The surrounding communities prosper while Goodlands dries up mysteriously in their midst, and Karen starts grasping at straws.

Tom Keatley travels the country on foot, a handsome, mysterious itinerant rainmaker, calling down a shower for fifty-dollar barroom bets, making enough to just keep on walking. He arrives on Karen Grange's doorstep long after she's forgotten about trying to contact him one night on a caffeine high. Tom can feel something wrong with Goodlands, an invisible wall keeping the rain outside the town limits. He agrees to make it rain for five thousand dollars, half the money up front, without revealing that he doesn't know if he can bring the water down in this haunted little town. Karen, desperate to help Goodlands so that she can remain there herself, secretly embezzles the money from her bank in the name of one its loanholders. Such an act could sever her irrevocably from the community where she longs to stay, could land her behind prison bars.

While Tom tries to puzzle out the secrets keeping Goodlands locked away from the rain, and Karen scrambles to keep the bank from coming under the head office ax, a vengeful woman's spirit begins to battle in earnest for the soul of a town that let her death pass unremarked. An angry young woman from the bad side of town becomes a useful corporeal tool, and as the stakes grow higher, the unfortunate "accidents" around Goodlands start to increase in number and menace. No one, not the law nor an increasingly paranoid populace, will be prepared for the final battle royale for possession of Goodlands, a battle that will leave none unscathed.

A Dry Spell keeps you reading and guessing enough to pull you all the way through the story, but is not without flaws. Moloney misses the opportunity to exploit Karen Grange's embezzlement for some real sweat-popping dread. She also includes a near-climax before the big one that leaves the reader staggering through the story's end. On the whole, though, her style is clear without being simplistic, and some of the main characters are interesting enough (King-ish enough?) to hold your attention. This novel won't change your life, but it should prove a good weekend diversion or before-bed nightcapper.

Buy *A Dry Spell* online
click here for more info
Click here to learn more about this month's sponsor!

fiction · sf/f · comic books · nonfiction · audio
newsletter · free book contest · buy books online
review index · links · · authors & publishers

site by ELBO Computing Resources, Inc.