Ushers Passing

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Walen Usher orders all electricity in the house shut off because he can hear the humming of the current passing through the wiring. Nobody is sure who will be heir to the family throne. Rix does not want it. Rix learns that the power behind the Ushers may very well be embodied in that cane.

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One evening, while his father berates him, Rix picks up the cane and feels a surge of power and lust for more power and money. He quickly discards it, disgusted with the thoughts that have entered his head.

One night, while entranced by the voices, New starts the family truck and starts to head down the drive from the shack he shares with his mother. Before anything can be explained, Greediguts attacks the Mountain King and mortally wounds him. He feels power surge through him and Greediguts is badly wounded with a burn on his head. New discovers the cane has powers that make him able to compel people to do his bidding.

He orders his mother to accompany him while he drives the dying Mountain King to a doctor. He summons New and Raven to his death bed so he can relate the tale of Briartop Mountain, the evil that once resided there, and the source of power of the Ushers and the people of Briartop. Raven learns that dozens, perhaps hundreds of children have disappeared without a trace from Briartop Mountain over the last century.

Boone is lured to The Lodge by a mysteriously open door.

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Boone has spent many hours walking the first floor of the cavernous mansion and has made a map of it. He enters with confidence. Katrina meets with misfortune as well, encountering the Pumpkin Man in the family garage. Wheeler Dunstan will not let him see it and a fight ensues.

Rix overpowers him and grabs the manuscript. He finds that the man has written nothing but gibberish.

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There is no book at all. The man is insane. There, they resolve that they must go into The Lodge to unravel the final mystery of the Pumpkin Man and Greediguts. Rix returns to The Lodge to confront his father with what he has learned and demand the details on the Pendulum Project. He gets there and finds his father near death. After they argue, Rix snatches the cane and grasps its power.

His father dies, protesting that the cane was not ready to be passed. He learns who the Pumpkin Man is and is compelled to accompany him to The Lodge to learn the final Usher family secrets.

Raven and New enter The Lodge through a tunnel leading from a gatehouse. Soon, Greediguts falls in behind them, following them from a distance, driving them forward and cutting off their escape. Finally, Rix is able to behold the Pendulum and see its terrible power unleashed in just small doses.

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Pendulum is unleashed and The Lodge collapses in on itself, its power and the power of its landlord destroyed. Nonetheless, the time I spent consuming his body of work was well worth it! I've said it before, McCammon is that rare author that has never written a bad book! The Poe story is thin on action and contains no backstory on the Ushers or the peculiar malady that afflicts them. McCammon builds a plausible, modern story around the Usher family and creates a gothic tale of horror set in modern North Carolina. McCammon tells his tale deftly with action, reflection, flashback, and drama all brought forward in proper proportions.

His writing of the Usher Malady and the panic that it induces reminds one of Guy de Maupassant. For me, the writer who can write a scene so compelling that I am able to recall it vividly years later is the hallmark of a great writer. McCammon did this for me as he described how the Usher family descendants and their servants fled from the Great Chicago Fire. The events themselves are an obscure clue in the story.

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But the narrative brings to life what was a very real and horrific event. McCammon describes the streets full of panicking residents. Passage from the city to the safety of the Lake Michigan is clogged with fleeing pedestrians, people on horseback, and horse drawn carriages. Buildings explode as the firestorm moves toward the lake.

Robert R. McCammon's USHER'S PASSING

Ashes and cinders fall all about the people, setting them on fire. For fans of Poe, this book is a must read.

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It is not a ripoff of Poe. The main baddie here is the Pumpkin Man, a supernatural character who has been abducting children for decades. It was a well delivered set up that made sense in retrospect but caught me off guard. I thought there was good character development in this novel, with a good many memorable characters. The writing was strong and purposeful. The supernatural elements mixed in well with the parts that were grounded in reality. My only negative was that I felt it dragged in certain parts and could have used some trimming to make it a tighter story.

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