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Bethany's Sin (1984)

Bethany's Sin (1984)

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3.52 of 5 Votes: 5
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0380477122 (ISBN13: 9780380477128)
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About book Bethany's Sin (1984)

My first thought upon reading Bethany’s Sin was, this is the antithesis of The Stepford Wives. In that Ira Levin classic, the men of Stepford, New York conspire to kill the women of their village and replace them with anatomically improved robots who are dutiful wives. In Bethany’s Sin, the women conspire to kill the men.The motive is certainly different. The men of Stepford wanted “good” wives who cooked, cleaned, and were pretty. The women of Bethany’s Sin killed for the joy of killing. The stark difference between Levin’s novel and McCammon’s is Levin’s was blatant social commentary on male backlash against the feminism of the 1970s. McCammon’s novel was just pure fun – and fun it was.Bethany’s Sin seldom slowed down. The plot was paced nicely. However, the characters were not well developed and the introduction was over-written.Many authors – particularly horror novelists – use a prologue to introduce an ancient horror that is going to be resurrected in their novel. John Saul is noteworthy in his use of a prologue. It is often effective. What is not effective is a double prologue which is what McCammon writes at the beginning of Bethany’s Sin.The first introduces the ancient evil that invades (willingly or unwillingly is never made clear) Kathryn Drago’s soul at the archeological dig back in 1965. Here, McCammon’s writing at his best – hinting at what the malevolence will be in this novel. Great.Then there is a second prologue where Evan is in a Vietcong POW camp about to be tortured. His torturer: a woman. Her device: a spider. The intent was to introduce Evan as a mentally flawed character who was a product of torture. But it came off as silly. Evan’s flaws could have been easily woven into the story. I felt like McCammon was a lazy here.Evan and Kay had the feel of John Saul’s characters, developed just enough, but not deeply. We know that torture and trauma are the source of Evan’s dreams and his precognition. McCammon also describes a childhood incident with his brother. There two causes for Evan’s anguish and neither are developed sufficiently to make a rich character for whom the reader will root.Better developed, but less important to the story, is the town handyman, Neely Ames. Ames had the feel of a Stephen King character. King fully develops even his secondary characters and Neely Ames, an innocent drifter employed by the village to be exploited, was rich and sympathetic.What appeals to me the most about Bethany’s Sin is the setting. I love stories about “that strange, little town.” John Saul conjured many strange towns. Dean Koontz, too. When Stephen King destroyed Castle Rock in Needful Things, he felt he’d visited the strange little town too often and destroyed it lest he overdo it. But some of King’s most masterful work was set in Castle Rock and Derry. To make a strange little town story work, the author must make it plausible that the underlying evil will not be noticed by the outside world. For everything that there is to like about the movie version of Stephen King’s Children of the Corn, one can not get past the fact that somebody would have noticed a Nebraska town missing before the bodies rotted. McCammon, however, makes Bethany’s Sin work. The sheriff is employed by Kathryn Drago to keep the outside world from prying into the affairs of Bethany’s Sin. It works – and if an author can pass the test of plausibility with his strange little town story, I’m in. Bethany’s Sin was McCammon’s second book and for many years, he would not allow it to be reprinted. Later in his career, McCammon felt his first four novels were not up to par and that he was still learning the craft of writing. That is very true. But that does not mean they are not good and should not be appreciated for what they are. Bethany’s Sin is a good book. It has flaws – a couple major ones. But it works. It is a fun read. It is an easy read. Yes, he was learning and Bethany’s Sin does not measure when compared to his later work. But reading the “condemned novels” makes fans of Robert R. McCammon appreciate his later work for the great novels they are.

I found my way to Bethany's Sin by way of some of Mr. McCammon's later works, most notably the highly regarded Boy's Life and Swan Song titles, which I enjoyed very much. Bethany's Sin is the sophomore effort of his distinguished career, and his earlier novels are being re-released as limited edition hardcovers from Subterranean Press.The evil in this horror tale that must be overcome by the story's protagonists comes from a unique source. Whereas most horror stories seem to be another variation of the same literary tropes that are used in the genre, this story offers something different. Instead of vampires, werewolves, zombies, demonic spirits, or psychopathic serial killers, Bethany's Sin centers around the Amazon legends from Greek Mythology. These all-female warriors have taken over the town of Bethany's Sin, and their ferociousness lives up to the legends. The plot of this story is pretty straightforward. A new family moves into Bethany's Sin and the husband starts becoming suspicious of the goings on while the wife is slowly being brought into the Amazon cult. This ultimately leads to the final confrontation as the husband uncovers the truth and tries to save his wife and daughter. Fairly standard stuff plot-wise. There are no M. Night Shayamalan "twists" that occur at the end to throw you for a loop. Everything more or less plays out as you suspect it will as you progress through the story. Nevertheless, it is a very well written tale with a unique antagonist. Bethany's Sin does not rank among my favorite of Robert McCammon's novels, but it was an enjoyable read and definitely worth the time spent. And if you're wondering about the odd name of Bethany's Sin for a town, it is explained in the story.

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worst thriller novel ive ever read. maybe its just that ive read to many and this was point for point a formula thriller that had no surprises or anything to make it special. okay,**SPOILER** the main character dies at the end which is new, but nothing throughout the story was new. dean koontz at least would have had a dog and someone mentally handicapped in there. took me a full week to read 300 pages when i average 100 pages a day. when i, a man, read twilight faster then your book, its not a
—Joshua Mcdonald

This is not the story the book's blurb led me to expect but it was still an enjoyable schlocky horror yarn. Our hero and his family move into an American small town that's almost too perfect. Predictably its pretty facade hides a grotesque horror.It is slow to get started but once the enemy reveals itself about halfway through it becomes a real page-turner. I don't want to give too much away but the there some splendid horror set pieces and a terrific inferno of a final battle.The horror is comic strip and fantastical rather than sadistic or gritty. A fun escapist read.

Written in 1980, McCammon's second novel is not one of the author's favorites. In fact, he felt that his first three shouldn't be reprinted due to the writing not being up to par with his work after that. Robert is his own toughest critic of his work. While this may not be his best story, it's still a really good read. That's McCammon for you. The bar is raised to the heavens. He's an amazing author and Bethany's Sin is chock full of what he does best - an interesting premise, full and vibrant three-dimensional characters, and a writing style that grabs a hold of you and sucks you in. Evan, a writer and a Vietnam veteran who has seen his share of horrors, and his wife Kay, a math professor, and their young daughter Laurie move to the charming, well-kept small town of Bethany's Sin, Pennsylvania to start a new life. Evan's dreams have made a mess of their previous attempts in other cities. You see, he has a penchant for predicting danger through the recollection of his nightmares. His wife doesn't believe that he's having premonitions and that he's actually creating the problems by reading too much into his dreams. Soon after moving to Bethany's Sin, Evan begins having troublesome visions during the night again. Not wanting to cause problems so soon after moving into their dream neighborhood, he tries to stifle his visions. Kay takes a position at a local community college and bumps into the head of the history department, Dr. Drago. She learns that Drago is also the mayor of Bethany's Sin and a woman of mesmerizing qualities. In fact, Evan notices that the village is full of dominating women that are either single or married to a submissive husband. Oddly enough, there is a museum in town that is dedicated to the lost civilization of the Amazon women. McCammon slowly unfolds his tale developing the characters and setting up the curious scenes in the first half of the novel and then kicks it into high gear during the second half. It's definitely worth picking up.4 out of 5 starsYou can also follow my reviews at the following links:https://kenmckinley.wordpress.com - @KenMcKinley5
—Ken McKinley

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