Absence by Kaye Park Hinckley

by | Jun 17, 2022 | General Fiction, Horror

Genre

Southern Gothic

Audience

wives and mothers

Author’s Worldview

Catholic

Year Published

2020

Themes

redemption, commodification of children, babies for sale, theology of the body, Southern Gothic

Reviewed by

Courtney Guest Kim

Absence belongs to the Southern Gothic tradition because the secrets are dreadful; the stubbornness is perverse; and children play with a human skull in bed. Yes, there is a version of incest too. But if it were possible to reclaim a genre in the tradition of Sidney Lanier—one of whose poems provides both the epigraph and the title of this story—Absence would rightfully be called Southern Poetic. This novel with intense resolve excises every trace of trashiness from its postmodern Alabama countryside. These peanut farmers are poor, but they have a quality not usually ascribed to them: dignity. And because they have dignity, when they fall into evil ways the outcome is not merely horrible, but tragic.

When you close this book, you will feel an anxious impulse to confess your sins, lest they fester and warp the lives of everyone connected to you. More surprisingly, you will have learned to associate the peanut plant with the redemption of man. Kaye Park Hinckley returns to country life what we have long since ceased to expect of it: beauty and meaning. At every level her story reaches roots into the deepest origins of this nation. But apart from explaining a few Creek Indian words, she does not afflict her characters with peculiar dialogue or bizarre impulses. Nor does she try to render local speech patterns into idiosyncratic spelling. Her story utterly rejects every facile trope of a throwaway culture. It hones in on the most important thing this country has trashed: human souls.

James Greene is desperate, but he is not vulgar. His fall into evil is the age-old tragedy of man. He does not do evil because he wants evil, but because he wants the good that has been denied him. Like Adam in the Garden of Eden, he reaches for a fruit that is good in itself, and he does it for the sake of the woman he loves. Like Cain, faced with disappointment, he does not turn toward God in sorrow but away from God in anger. And if you are tempted to shrug off these choices as minor ones, Absence will chill you with the stark reminder that human beings are not just bodies, but souls, whose spiritual influence cannot be suppressed, even when the bodies have gone missing. It’s not just that the ends do not justify the means: the evil means will work their poison through every aspect of your life. So beware, reader. When you enter this terrain of red soil, you leave behind every escape devised by an escapist culture. There are only two alternatives–hell on earth, or redemption through suffering.

Get Catholic Books & eBooks for as little as $1 to FREE

Earthquake Weather by Kevin Rush

The mist that settles over San Francisco hides the ugly parts of her world. Can Kristine find the courage to see with unclouded eyes?

August & September New Book Releases

Step into Fall with a Good Book

Hussar by Declan Finn (St. Tommy NYPD Book 8)

It’s been a few years since St. Tommy saved the world. Now his son Jeremy and ward Lena have joined the fight.

Freeing Tanner Rose by T.M. Gaouette

Hollywood Starlet meets Kung Fu Country boy with a God obsession.

Ghosts of the Faithful by Kaye Park Hinckley

The O’Murphy family gets help from beyond the grave as they deal with long held secrets.

Why Reading Fiction Made Me a Better Catholic

How reading fiction became a crucial step in my conversion to the Catholic Church.

Jennifer the Damned By Karen Ullo

A story of a teenage vampire without the glamorous tempting allure, trying to really live in the real world.

Honor at Stake by Declan Finn

If you’re looking for a vampire-romance with a truly unique twist look no further.

Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix

Finally, someone’s done it. Someone’s written a horror novel about a haunted IKEA. And boy is it done well.

Island of Miracles by Amy Schisler

When she finds out her husband had a whole other set of wife and kids Kate starts over in a small beach town.

Everything Old: Love in Anadauk Book 1 by Amanda Hamm

Two youth group leaders rekindle their friendship and find love with each other along the way.

Rachel’s Contrition by Michelle Buckman

After the loss of her child, Rachel goes insane but she must pull her mind back together to solve a murder and save her own life.

Good to the Last Drop by Declan Finn

Marco thought his problems were over when he took on the vampire council, until he gets bit by a werewolf. Will this ruin things with his vampire girlfriend?

Gevaudan Project

This fun monster story takes themes of God, man, and environmentalism to places deeper than any newsroom can go.

Aurora and God by G.M.J.

After her boyfriend’s death, can Aurora forgive God?

Tortured Soul by Theresa Linden

Looking for a book that puts Christ not just back into Christmas but into Halloween too? Throw in a dash of ghost story, mystery, and romance and you have A Tortured Soul.

Live and Let Bite Review by Declan Finn

The battle with the demons of San Francisco left Marco broken and now Amanda isn’t answering his messages.

Deus Vult By Declan Finn

Detective Nolan returns home for a well-deserved vacation only to find himself fighting hordes of gunmen, Lovecraftian monsters, and a demon straight from the pit.

Infernal Affairs by Declan Finn

St. Tommy finally comes face-to-face with the warlock that has been behind the events of the previous two books while fighting off hordes of everything from gangsters to vampires.