The Toll

The Toll

From Cherie Priest, the author of The Family Plot and Maplecroft, comes The Toll, a tense, dark, and scary treat for modern fans of the traditionally strange and macabre.State Road 177 runs along the Suwannee River, between Fargo, Georgia, and the Okefenokee Swamp. Drive that route from east to west, and you’ll cross six bridges. Take it from west to east, and you might fi...

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Title:The Toll
Author:Cherie Priest
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Toll Reviews

  • OutlawPoet

    Despite the monstrous something that kills…

    Despite the weird townspeople who hold fast to secrets…

    Despite the dark bridge where terrible things happen…

    I actually found I wanted to live in The Toll’s world. In The Toll, author Cherie Priest brings us a world of magic, gothic horrors, and compelling wonders. From the first chapter I was lost, coming up for air only because I had to work to pay the bills. Each one of our characters, living, dead or other, brings this world to life.

    The book is high

    Despite the monstrous something that kills…

    Despite the weird townspeople who hold fast to secrets…

    Despite the dark bridge where terrible things happen…

    I actually found I wanted to live in The Toll’s world. In The Toll, author Cherie Priest brings us a world of magic, gothic horrors, and compelling wonders. From the first chapter I was lost, coming up for air only because I had to work to pay the bills. Each one of our characters, living, dead or other, brings this world to life.

    The book is highly atmospheric and our mystery simply doesn’t let you go.

    At the end of it all, I simply wanted more.

    *ARC Provided via Net Galley

  • Matthew Galloway

    This is one hundred percent my kind of horror. Things are mysterious and unknowable (but not in an annoying way). There's a ton of suspense and creeping dread. Gory grossness is only used when necessary. Plus the whole thing is incredibly character centered.

    Now I realize I didn't give it a full five stars -- that is not a loss for quality, but rather for preference. There were characters I loved and those I didn't, and some ended up where I'd like and some not. What every one of those characters

    This is one hundred percent my kind of horror. Things are mysterious and unknowable (but not in an annoying way). There's a ton of suspense and creeping dread. Gory grossness is only used when necessary. Plus the whole thing is incredibly character centered.

    Now I realize I didn't give it a full five stars -- that is not a loss for quality, but rather for preference. There were characters I loved and those I didn't, and some ended up where I'd like and some not. What every one of those characters felt like was real. Everyone had a flaw or a past to confront -- if they had POV chapters -- and I loved that. To me, the horror only works if I really care about the people in peril and this does that so well.

  • Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede

    To be reviewed over at Fresh Fiction!

  • Bandit

    If I must read southern, it ought to be gothic. Such as this story. And frankly, the immediate premise makes you think Scandinavian, Norwegian specifically, and trolls demanding tolls for the safe pass and so on. But this one is set in the swaps of Georgia and the demanding troll is very much a location appropriate creature. So yeah, a southern gothic creature feature with a small dying off town haunted every so often by something supernatural with only a pair of aging witches to stand in its wa

    If I must read southern, it ought to be gothic. Such as this story. And frankly, the immediate premise makes you think Scandinavian, Norwegian specifically, and trolls demanding tolls for the safe pass and so on. But this one is set in the swaps of Georgia and the demanding troll is very much a location appropriate creature. So yeah, a southern gothic creature feature with a small dying off town haunted every so often by something supernatural with only a pair of aging witches to stand in its way. But it starts off with a man idiotic enough to presuppose that canoeing a swamp constitutes exciting and romantic honeymooning experience and his new bride grudgingly accompanying him. It sounds like a terrible idea and, sure enough, plays out like one. Crash boom bang (but a quiet sleepy swampy kind) later and now it’s up to the confused and bewildered newlywed to find out what’s going on, which ends up involving a variety of locals to a variety of lethal results. Get ready for a pretty decent body count. Get ready to hit the swamps. Get ready to pay the toll. Good story, properly dark and atmospheric, properly developed characters, sustained suspense and, of course, of course, an awesome creature. Very exciting story, My first read by the author and a terrific introduction as far as those go, I liked the writing very much. Thoroughly entertaining enjoyable read.Probably best to read at night, though effective even during the day. Recommended for all fans of scary things told in a literary manner. Thanks Netgalley.

  • Lashaan Balasingam (Bookidote)

    .

    There’s nothing like finding yourself in the middle of nowhere with no resources at your disposition to re-establish a certain feeling of security in your environment. It is even more tedious when the answers you need aren’t the ones you get. Confronted with the impossible, it is in our nature to grasp onto logical explanations to remain as sane as possible but the more it becomes impossible, the more likely you are to abandon reason and believe

    .

    There’s nothing like finding yourself in the middle of nowhere with no resources at your disposition to re-establish a certain feeling of security in your environment. It is even more tedious when the answers you need aren’t the ones you get. Confronted with the impossible, it is in our nature to grasp onto logical explanations to remain as sane as possible but the more it becomes impossible, the more likely you are to abandon reason and believe the improbable. Author of The Family Plot and Maplecroft, Cherie Priest delivers a brand-new horror story where nothing seems likely but everything seems possible.

    What is The Toll about? Titus Bell is off with his wife on an unconventional honeymoon deep in the Okefenokee Swamp cabins with plans of canoeing and camping to cement their love for each other. Despite their reticence, the thrill of escaping their regular city lives to get lost among wild creatures and dangerous vegetation brings them to stumble upon mysteries that were better off left alone. It’s when the road they take to reach the village narrows into a lone and rickety bridge that their lives hit a brick wall and become much more complicated. Upon crossing the bridge, Titus finds himself waking up alone, lying on the ground, with her wife missing, and no answers to appease his soul. It doesn’t help when the bridge he encountered is also inexistent to the knowledge of all.

    With the story taking place on just a couple of days with the disappearance of the protagonist’s wife as the driving force of the narrative, Cherie Priest does a fantastic job in keeping the reader hooked with surreal intrigue that continuously haunts the reader. While it often feels like nothing is moving forward, there’s always an uncertain sensation that crawls underneath you, giving you the impression that trouble is just hiding within the bushes. How she develops her little town’s atmospheric and dark ambiance helps the reader immerse themselves into the story and quickly establishes the history of the swamps and the story of the suspicious villagers who roam around it.

    The narrative also lurks from one point of view to another to offer different perspectives on the unfolding of events. This approach allows the reader to understand that the motivations of all the characters aren’t necessarily the same and that there is so much more going on than what the protagonist could grasp. What turned out to be a wonderful surprise was also the character development that went along with each point of view as it solidified the despair and descent into madness of some individuals. It’s by playing around with modern issues lived by humans that the story was able to assert itself within some realism while incorporating the paranormal elements seamlessly into the narrative.

    The Toll is an atmospheric and thrilling Southern gothic horror story that cleverly reels you into a little village with secrets far more dangerous than the predators of their swamps.

    Thank you to Raincoast Books and Tor Books for sending me a copy for review!

    Yours truly,

    Lashaan | Blogger and Book Reviewer

    Official blog:

  • Jeri

    Imagine going on your honeymoon to the swamps of Florida and your wife disappears. Not only does she disappear without a trace but this isn't the first time it's happened. This book was dark and creepy, gory in parts but not unnecessarily so. It had a horror-suspense factor to it but it didn't keep me glued to it as much as I had hoped.

    I was given an eARC by the publisher through NetGalley.

  • Eve (Between The Bookends)

    This one was OK. It took me a while to get through it because I kept putting it down. 🙈 The writing itself was good. 👍 The characters interesting. 👍 The plot was OK, but I wanted more. It was repetitive and felt a little underdeveloped. 👎 So yea, not horrible but also nothing to write home about. 😪

  • Fiona

    If you're on your way to Staywater, count the bridges and pray there's only six. Because sometimes there's seven - and when that happens, (pardon my French) shit gets really weird.

    Not that Staywater is normal. There's a house of dolls, ghosts in the bar, and mannequins with their own sense of fashion (but don't test

    If you're on your way to Staywater, count the bridges and pray there's only six. Because sometimes there's seven - and when that happens, (pardon my French) shit gets really weird.

    Not that Staywater is normal. There's a house of dolls, ghosts in the bar, and mannequins with their own sense of fashion (but don't test them by knocking on the glass. They wouldn't like that.). And despite an almost quirky sense of small town in the swamps, everything's just a little bit off, just a little bit wrong, and a lot ominous.

    This is a short book, and I think it hit an awkward length. As much as I liked the ideas here, they didn't get the attention they deserved - an odd snippet would pop up, intrigue me, and then...never turn out to be important or make it back into the story again. Chekhov's gun in this story would have been a laser pistol that left the stage of it's own volition without firing a shot. But it was definitely creepy, and I love me some quirk. So while it really could be either shortened or lengthened to make it work better for me, I'd opt for lengthened if given the choice, and I hope this location gets revisited in another book.

  • carol.

    Loosely billed as 'horror,' I don't think that The Toll earns the genre. With a Southern Gothic atmosphere, it has a dual plot line that only intersects near the end. One story begins with a bored seventeen-year-old boy, Cameron, his elderly witchy godmothers and the restless feeling of wanting change. The other plot surrounds a squabbling honeymooning couple headed to a cabin in the Okefenokee swamp, who experience something surreal as they cross a strange bridge. Because the tone between the t

    Loosely billed as 'horror,' I don't think that The Toll earns the genre. With a Southern Gothic atmosphere, it has a dual plot line that only intersects near the end. One story begins with a bored seventeen-year-old boy, Cameron, his elderly witchy godmothers and the restless feeling of wanting change. The other plot surrounds a squabbling honeymooning couple headed to a cabin in the Okefenokee swamp, who experience something surreal as they cross a strange bridge. Because the tone between the two stories feels so different, it almost feels like two books in one. I read an advance reader copy, and parts of it still felt like a draft. In fact, in the end notes, Priest notes that it was written around the time of a cross-country move and selling a house, and I can't help but feel quality was sacrificed. Still, it was occasionally diverting. 

    Characterization was decent. Although the cast was often interesting, one of the challenges for me is that they were difficult to care about, as almost all of them were ethically challenged. The honeymooners, Titus and Melissa, are a mess. Cameron, the seventeen year-old, is basically a shallow, developmentally younger boy. The elderly godmothers were the most entertaining, but felt a little to contrived and cryptic at times. Still, they were by far my favorite characters. Dialogue occasionally feels awkward but actually quite real. A quote from Titus:

    "He had a feeling that much of his forseeable future would be dedicated to keeping his mouth shut. He didn't like how he felt about that feeling."

    Setting was decent, but didn't really immerse me in the swamp until the last quarter. I had more of a feel for the idiosyncrasies of the town than the swamp. While Titus goes into the general description of the bridges and the water as they approach the reserve, it's more the affection of an alligator fan and casual visitor than a person that knows the biology and plants of the swamp. I've read quite a few mysteries set in swamps that gave me a much better appreciation for the heavy, still air and stagnant pools of algae-crusted water.

    Many points in the book felt underdeveloped or not well-thought out. At one point, Priest throws in something about Nick in the bar being a ghost. It was a moment of mental whiplash; not that I minded, but suddenly there was this new thing I had to integrate into my understanding of this village. Likewise, Cameron is surprised to learn the object of his crush is actually in her thirties. We've already read how this is a one-horse town; this seems surprising to me when he's lived there for fourteen years. The fact that Priest makes a point of small facts is frustrating as they seem to provide points to catch oneself on instead of enhancing the scenery--somewhat like walking a path with many branches blocking the way. I suppose it added to the atmosphere of strangeness in the town, but mostly it left me a little bit puzzled.

    Take

    by Alice Hoffman, cross it with

    by Robert Jackson Bennett. Change the desert cliffs to deep swamp, throw in squabbling honeymooners instead of a gentle romance, and there you go:

      Mostly it felt like a lot of ideas jumbled together and needed more development to grow them into something intimidating and ominous. On my diverting read scale, I'd rate it below Mira Grant's

    If you want a good Lovecraft tale, go with

    or

  • Cillian

    Phantom bridges? Swamps? The south?

    CHERIE PRIEST?

    I'm deceased.

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