The Cypress House

The Cypress House

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 pass...

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Title:The Cypress House
Author:Michael Koryta
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Cypress House Reviews

  • Lou

    Check out my interview with Michael Koryta in August 2012 >>

    A haunting Cleverly written story. The main protagonist Arlene has some scores to settle and souls to help close to home and out of town. The story is set in a bleak weather and financial climate. He finds himself in a town where more than his carpentry skills are needed. One woman a resident of Cypress House is in his need of his help, trapped in a web of bribery, murder a

    Check out my interview with Michael Koryta in August 2012 >>

    A haunting Cleverly written story. The main protagonist Arlene has some scores to settle and souls to help close to home and out of town. The story is set in a bleak weather and financial climate. He finds himself in a town where more than his carpentry skills are needed. One woman a resident of Cypress House is in his need of his help, trapped in a web of bribery, murder and drug running at the hands of a gang of violent men. Arlene has already his own demons to deal with as he battles with and tries to understand his deceased fathers last words and days of lives. As time goes by he becomes closer to his father more than ever and starts to understand and realize his father. This was a a chilling story of human struggle in desperate times, a story written about many times before but presented here in a very different atmosphere and supernatural twist.

  • Daniel Audet

    I finished this book, having read through it in a few days. Koryta has a great writing style, it's no wonder he has a large following. Characters in this book are engaging and vivid. The flavor and atmosphere of the day (1935) is there throughout, along with the description of the hurricane and it's aftermath. The paranormal aspect of this book seems, well, normal, to the characters in terms of their reality and to the reader it becomes a plausible aspect. I'll be looking up other books from th

    I finished this book, having read through it in a few days. Koryta has a great writing style, it's no wonder he has a large following. Characters in this book are engaging and vivid. The flavor and atmosphere of the day (1935) is there throughout, along with the description of the hurricane and it's aftermath. The paranormal aspect of this book seems, well, normal, to the characters in terms of their reality and to the reader it becomes a plausible aspect. I'll be looking up other books from this author to read and I highly recommend this book, even if you're not a paranormal book fan....you will be. Stay tuned....

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    I started The Cypress House 2 days ago and I'm about 100 pages in. First of all I'm sorry I did not discover this author Michael Koryta sooner, it's certainly no fault of his I just need to get out more - I guess. Right off the bat Koryta grabs you and pulls you into the story as if you were already riding along, I love this and it's something all the best authors are able to do. The reviews you may have seen regarding this book and author, the positive ones, in my humble opinion are all true. Having messaged back and forth with Michael Connelly in the recent past I can tell you he doesn't twist the truth for anyone....EVER. So, if he says this guy's"...the best of the best...", and I agree, then that's what he is, you can take that to the bank.

    OK, back to our story....There is nothing standard issue about this tale or the way Koryta rolls it out. He breaks a few writing rules and it works to make this story, and the critical backstory, bring you up to speed on a drama playing, and about to play out, with ominous tie-ins to the characters recent history. Then, as a killer hurricane threatens the south coast of 1935 Florida (something the author beautifully and fully captures in flavor and setting)something happens to the good(or maybe not-so-good) samaritan who helps our 2 heroes out while on their way to a work camp in the Florida Keys. Our main character has a special skill, a skill he does not want and it allows him to see things he does not want to see. I'm not one for cliches', though I can only dream my own books will be spoken of this way, but, this book IS one of those you won't be able to put down. I'm thrilled to have discovered not just this great thriller but this author. More soon as I read through The Cypress House.

    ________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    I'm very much looking forward to reading this book, having grown up in LA and Florida. FL mostly. I am a lover of the tropics so anything based in this area in my fav genre is sure to catch my attention. I will get back to you on this book soon, and other books by this author, Michael Koryta.

  • Lou

    "Gangsters, a silent but heroic drifter with second sight, and a whopper of a Florida hurricane. How can you go wrong?" (Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly )

    <

    "Michael Koryta is one of our new dynamos in the world of books, and in The Cypress House he spreads his range, wedding suspense with the supernatural in the eeriness of 1930s Florida. He uses the psychology of place to penetrate the human heart and delivers his tale of hurricanes and love and hauntings with great narrative force. Koryta

    "Gangsters, a silent but heroic drifter with second sight, and a whopper of a Florida hurricane. How can you go wrong?" (Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly )

    <

    "Michael Koryta is one of our new dynamos in the world of books, and in The Cypress House he spreads his range, wedding suspense with the supernatural in the eeriness of 1930s Florida. He uses the psychology of place to penetrate the human heart and delivers his tale of hurricanes and love and hauntings with great narrative force. Koryta's becoming a wonder we'll appreciate for a long time." (Daniel Woodrell, author of Winter's Bone )

    "Michael Koryta has fashioned a great character in his reluctant prophet, Arlen Wagner, a good man who ends up with an awful lot of blood on his hands before the denouement of this deliciously dark tale. Koryta is a fantastic storyteller, and the many admirers of his previous novel, So Cold the River, will find similar chilly pleasures awaiting them here." (Scott Smith, author of A Simple Plan and The Ruins )

    A haunting Cleverly written story. The main protagonist Arlene has some scores to settle and souls to help close to home and out of town. The story is set in a bleak weather and financial climate. He finds himself in a town where more than his carpentry skills are needed. One woman a resident of Cypress House is in his need of his help, trapped in a web of bribery, murder and drug running at the hands of a gang of violent men. Arlene has already his own demons to deal with as he battles with and tries to understand his deceased fathers last words and days of lives. As time goes by he becomes closer to his father more than ever and starts to understand and realize his father. This was a a chilling story of human struggle in desperate times, a story written about many times before but presented here in a very different atmosphere and supernatural twist.

    You can view video interview on my blog here >>

  • Kemper

    The fine folks who run Goodreads can point to this review with their sponsors as proof that their ads actually work because I got this book after seeing it several times here on the site. Granted, I got it from the library so I didn’t actually spend any money on it, but the fact that I sought it out and read it after seeing it on here has to count for something, right? (Oh, and I will never watch that

    movie because the damn thing expanded all over my screen if my cursor got w

    The fine folks who run Goodreads can point to this review with their sponsors as proof that their ads actually work because I got this book after seeing it several times here on the site. Granted, I got it from the library so I didn’t actually spend any money on it, but the fact that I sought it out and read it after seeing it on here has to count for something, right? (Oh, and I will never watch that

    movie because the damn thing expanded all over my screen if my cursor got within a half-mile of it so that’s one ad that actually made me hate the thing it was selling.)

    Anyhow, for once Internet advertising was useful because I read an entertaining book that I probably wouldn’t have checked out otherwise. Arlen Wagner is a World War I veteran trying to get by during the Great Depression by working for one of the government coservation projects. He befriends a young man named Paul Brickhill who has a knack for construction and engineering, and when their current job ends, Paul talks Arlen into going down to the Florida Keys with him to work on a bridge project.

    However, Arlen has a creepy gift. He can tell when people are about to die because he begins seeing them as skeletal figures with smoke in their eyes. On the train to Florida, Arlen begins seeing that everyone on the train is going to die in the near future. He talks Paul into getting off the train with him, but the other men think he’s crazy and continue on towards disaster.

    Arlen and Paul catch a ride with a slick stranger who makes a stop at an isolated fishing resort run by the beautiful but secretive Rebecca Cady. Before they realize what they’ve gotten into, Arlen and Paul have gotten on the bad sides of a corrupt local judge and sheriff, and then caught in a hurricane. Arlen just wants to get out of the county, but before it’s all over, he‘ll be seeing a lot more people with skeleton features and smokey eyes.

    I hadn’t read Koryta before, but I’ll checking out more of his work. Here, he’s created a period crime piece with a spooky supernatural twist. The haunted Arlen and the gifted but naïve Paul are a couple of great characters, and the Florida beaches and swamps make a nice backdrop for the drama. This is quality fast-paced creepy story telling.

  • Jason

    4 Stars

    I really enjoyed this period piece thriller that has a tiny bit of supernatural added in for flair and color. This is my first Koryta novel that I have read, but I am now a fan and will be sure to read his other works.

    This novel's strength is that it is built around a very likable, believable, and rememberable protagonist named Arlen. The side characters are colorful and sufficient to compliment Arlen. Corridor County, the town, the place itself was to me the second strongest character of

    4 Stars

    I really enjoyed this period piece thriller that has a tiny bit of supernatural added in for flair and color. This is my first Koryta novel that I have read, but I am now a fan and will be sure to read his other works.

    This novel's strength is that it is built around a very likable, believable, and rememberable protagonist named Arlen. The side characters are colorful and sufficient to compliment Arlen. Corridor County, the town, the place itself was to me the second strongest character of this book. The time period of the 1930's depression era was also a tangible player in this crime thriller. I loved the way that all the action, the events, and the main plots were shaped by the setting and the time.

    The supernatural aspect of this book is small, and not completely necessary, but it works. It gives this story it's heart and emotion. The backstories of all the main characters also add to our investment in their outcome. Their stories are the reason we care about them by the books end. Arlen is a strong and able hero that could easily carry a series. Even though we learn a great deal about the man, it is very clear that there is much more to him than we are given. He appears to know more than he lets on. He seems to be too prepared to be just a man looking for work. Arlen is also a man that has an extraordinary gift that for most his life he has shunned and down played.

    The setting and the time make this book an immersive read. You are there at the old time bayou setting. You can hear the howling hurricane force winds. You can  smell the ocean, the beaches, and the farmers fields. You can almost feel the heat of the scorching Florida sun. I love well done period pieces, and Koryta has done a fine job at recreating Florida of the 1930's. I loved the backstories and the themes that play throughout. "Love Lingers" as Arlen's father used to tell him.

    The plot is fairly straight forward and does include a couple of twist along the way. There is not a lot of action but the end sequences are competent and suffice to tie up our story. The supernatural is done with a light touch that only adds to the time frame novel, not detract from it. I will be sure to read more of Koryta and highly recommend this book to those that like a good thriller, noir, and depression era pieces.

  • Jo Anne B

    “You’ve got a touch of the gift yourself, boy. I’m sure of it. I see it in you. You’re going to need to believe. And something you need to know, son? Love lingers.”

    Arlen Wagner’s father told him this before he was shot to death. All because people thought he was insane, including his son. Isaac Wagner claimed he could talk to dead people. Arlen wouldn’t realize he was telling the truth until he himself was able to do the same. Hard to believe someone has supernatural powers until you have them y

    “You’ve got a touch of the gift yourself, boy. I’m sure of it. I see it in you. You’re going to need to believe. And something you need to know, son? Love lingers.”

    Arlen Wagner’s father told him this before he was shot to death. All because people thought he was insane, including his son. Isaac Wagner claimed he could talk to dead people. Arlen wouldn’t realize he was telling the truth until he himself was able to do the same. Hard to believe someone has supernatural powers until you have them yourself.

    The author captured the setting in the early 1930s perfectly, rife with people desperate for jobs and money. Arlen and his traveling companion Paul were on a train headed to the Keys to get paid doing labor for the CCC- Civilian Conservation Corps. Arlen is a wonderful main character. He is a wise, experienced, honest man with a calm demeanor that made sure to make things right. He is a war veteran that has seen more than what most people see in their lives and gives him an air of omniscience. He is able to see if people were going to die by seeing either smoke in their eyes or their body as a skeleton. While on the train, he sees everyone as skeletons, and tells them they need to get off the train. Noone believes him, so they proceed onward to the Keys without Arlen and Paul. That left Arlen and Paul hitching a ride to a town that had a lot in store for them, despite its beauty.

    The town they ended up in was run by corrupt men including the Sheriff, judge, and all their henchmen. The judge Solomon Wade was the man in charge that kept his people paid and under his rule. He got men (and women) killed that he didn’t like and told Arlen that “All these people are smoke and I am the match.” Arlen had sensed the town was “off” and realized noone was able to leave the town since they would be able to tell outside authorities of the corrupt leaders running the show there. There was a big storm and he and Paul stayed at the Cypress House and remained after the storm to earn some money fixing up the place, since the sheriff had stolen all their money. Paul is infatuated with the owner of the inn, Rebecca who old enough to be his mother. Arlen ends up falling in love with her and when Paul learns of this he takes off. Arlen learns of the sheriff’s hold on Rebecca and plans to get Rebecca, her brother Owen and himself out of there alive. The plot ensues and there is a lot of bloodshed and twists involved.

    I really enjoyed this book. The writing was very much like Arlen’s demeanor and the nature surrounding the town, calm and subdued, but packed with a punch. This is my first read of Koryta’s and not my last.

  • Marvin

    Yes, I gave it four stars but with a big reservation.

    A question I always ask myself when reading a novel of the supernatural is, "Are the supernatural elements essential to the story." Or is it just a gimmick. Many paranormal romances violate this principle four times before breakfast. Fortunately I do not read very many PR.

    , not a PNR by any definition although there is a romance, failed this particular requirement. The supernatural aspect seems a little hacked on to me. Espec

    Yes, I gave it four stars but with a big reservation.

    A question I always ask myself when reading a novel of the supernatural is, "Are the supernatural elements essential to the story." Or is it just a gimmick. Many paranormal romances violate this principle four times before breakfast. Fortunately I do not read very many PR.

    , not a PNR by any definition although there is a romance, failed this particular requirement. The supernatural aspect seems a little hacked on to me. Especially disturbing is how the book description hints at more supernatural horrors. While there is plenty of evil awaiting our protagonist, it is not the supernatural variety.

    Yet even with that complaint,

    is an engaging thriller with lots of terrifying moments. Arlen Wagner is an admirably strong hero with demons of his own to struggle with. The villains in this novel are truly villainous. The Southern depression era setting with its hurricanes and swamps lend a colorfully rich background to this thriller. The plot regarding wandering laborers and local corrupt authorities is quite riveting. In fact, I liked this book better than the previously read

    in which the supernatural elements were core to the story.

    The main thing taken away from this reading is that Michael Koryta is an excellent writer and a truly gifted storyteller. While I would prefer more emphasis on the supernatural, Koryta's tale focusing on the horrors of our fellow humans is not to be taken lightly. I will be reading more Koryta soon.

  • Bill

    Arlen sees things.

    He doesn’t want to.

    But sees them anyway.

    This time it just may save his life.

    This was written well and pretty entertaining. Supernatural suspense/thrillers (if that’s even what this was) can be rough for me sometimes, but Koryta executes this one very well. Reminds me of a series I just watched on Netflix that I can’t remember the name of.

    Arlen sees things.

    He doesn’t want to.

    But sees them anyway.

    This time it just may save his life.

    This was written well and pretty entertaining. Supernatural suspense/thrillers (if that’s even what this was) can be rough for me sometimes, but Koryta executes this one very well. Reminds me of a series I just watched on Netflix that I can’t remember the name of.

    Overall, a very promising author and a decent and entertaining story. (Yes, I am aware that this dude has written a bunch of books, but this was my first of his.)

    3.5 Stars

  • Jennifer

    My newish way of life in which I don't have to finish every book doesn't always work. Like, I kept reading this one, thinking I just needed to give it more of a chance. There was one final apex shoot-em-up bloody scene that was interesting.

    However, my problem for most of the early book was the introduction of shallow characters who spoke as though they had depth, but they didn't really. They'd each allude to some deep dark secret they carried, but they'd be like, "now isn't the time," or "I've

    My newish way of life in which I don't have to finish every book doesn't always work. Like, I kept reading this one, thinking I just needed to give it more of a chance. There was one final apex shoot-em-up bloody scene that was interesting.

    However, my problem for most of the early book was the introduction of shallow characters who spoke as though they had depth, but they didn't really. They'd each allude to some deep dark secret they carried, but they'd be like, "now isn't the time," or "I've never told a soul" kind of business, until I finally didn't care anymore. And then suddenly, and seemingly without adequate motivation, they'd spend a chapter regurgitating the whole secret past, start to finish, "telling, not showing," like they used to caution us not to do in college. Each secret narrative started with something like, "well, I s'pose the time has come to tell you, blah blah blah" and I would wonder why? Why was then the time?

    It just got really annoying.

  • Jane Stewart

    2 stars. Bad subject matter for me, artificial secret keeping, stupidity, too much helpless victim feel.

    This was not entertaining or fun. I was not surprised or delighted. I liked the beginning, but the longer I read the more annoyed and frustrated I felt. The biggest problem was subject matter. The second problem was people keeping secrets for no good reason.

    SECRETS:

    Secrets were used to create mystery and conflict. They did not make sense. Some were stupid. Several times I wanted to shake a ch

    2 ½ stars. Bad subject matter for me, artificial secret keeping, stupidity, too much helpless victim feel.

    This was not entertaining or fun. I was not surprised or delighted. I liked the beginning, but the longer I read the more annoyed and frustrated I felt. The biggest problem was subject matter. The second problem was people keeping secrets for no good reason.

    SECRETS:

    Secrets were used to create mystery and conflict. They did not make sense. Some were stupid. Several times I wanted to shake a character and say “tell them.”

    Arlen loves Paul like a son and does things to help and protect Paul. At the end of the book, Paul has been given a gift from an anonymous source. Arlen is the source but does not tell Paul he did it. Why keep that secret? It was the end of the book and I was ready for some happy feelings, but instead I get another secret. I was annoyed.

    Many of the secrets were Rebecca not telling Arlen what was going on. Arlen also kept secrets from Paul. I liked Envy the Night by this author. In that book characters didn’t tell all they knew, but it fit their motivations.

    SUBJECT MATTER - METAPHOR STYLE:

    Two guys are looking for work and accidentally walk into a nest of poisonous snakes. Instead of running away like sane people, they stay because of a pretty girl. The leader of the snakes tells the girl he will kill her brother if she doesn’t do what he wants. The brother is tied up. She thinks as soon as he gets untied they can leave. But when he is no longer tied, he wants to stay. She doesn’t tell him the snakes are poisonous. And she continues to NOT tell him. Most of the story is about snakes threatening good guys.

    In contrast, in Envy the Night by Koryta, thugs come to town and have no idea that two very skilled and talented good guys will cause problems for them. That was fun because the good guys had some control. That is also what’s going on with the fabulously successful Jack Reacher series (by Lee Child). Thugs have no idea what they’re up against when they meet Reacher. In Cypress, the good guys have no power and suffer.

    I feel helpless when I think about corruption in the world around me. I read fiction to feel good. I want to see someone with control. Books like this pull me down rather than up.

    ACTUAL STORY BRIEF:

    Arlen was a soldier in WWI who is now traveling with Paul looking for work during the depression. They pass through a town where the judge and sheriff are part of a drug organization. When Arlen and Paul arrive, the judge and sheriff put them in jail, beat them, and take all their money. When they get out of jail, instead of leaving they hang around.

    A secondary story is Arlen’s psychic gift. He sees smoke in the eyes of people who will die. His father had a psychic gift of talking to people after they died.

    OPINION ABOUT THE PSYCHIC TALENTS:

    The story was good in the beginning about Arlen’s gift. And the ending climax scene had some of this which was very good. But the main story would have been better if it focused more on this gift - having more psychic things happening during the middle of the book.

    Another annoyance: Arlen kept insisting that his father was insane which was not true. And Arlen did not believe his father had a psychic ability. Because Arlen had his own psychic gift, it did not make sense that he disbelieved his father’s.

    MY FAVORITE PART:

    Paul was fun to watch and think about. He was a 19-year-old engineering genius. He was in control when it came to machines and structures.

    NARRATOR:

    The narrator Robert Petkoff was pretty good. But I have mixed feelings about his southern drawl for Arlen.

    DATA:

    Narrative mode: 3rd person. Unabridged audiobook length: 11 hrs and 54 mins. Swearing language: moderate but rarely used. Sexual language: none. Number of sex scenes: 3 referred to no details. Setting: 1935 mostly Florida gulf coast with a little back story. Book copyright: 2011. Genre: paranormal mystery suspense.

    OTHER BOOKS:

    I really enjoyed Envy the Night by this author. Gave it 5 stars.

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