Haunting Appalachian tale

Over the Plain Houses - Julia Franks

Irenie Lambey is a dedicated farm wife married to a preacher, Brodis Lambey. The story takes place in 1939.  Brodis has some very rigid rules for his church members and his family and is often very hard and unyielding in his beliefs.  Irenie feels suffocated in the life she lives with Brodis and starts sneaking out at night to take walks in the woods just to be alone.  When Brodis discovers these night time wanderings, he believes his wife has become a witch and is consorting with Satan in the woods.  The suspense builds as events lead to certain tragedy.


The author has done a wonderful job in describing this troubled marriage and the effect of the cracks that are appearing in their lives on not only the preacher and his wife but also on their teenage son.  I cared about each of these characters, including the USDA agent Virginia Furman who befriended Irenie and opened her eyes to the possibility of another life.  The author took great care with the mapping out of this story and the unraveling of Brodis’ perception of what was happening around him.  I’ve always enjoyed stories set in the Appalachian Mountains and this is an excellent one.  It’s haunting and profound and Ms. Franks has an excellent grasp on humanity.  Recommended.


This book was given to me by the publisher through Edelweiss in return for an honest review.