Rachel Eve Moulton has described her new novel “The Insatiable Volt Sisters” as “feminist horror.” The story mostly takes place on the fictional Fowler Island in Lake Erie. Beatrice and Henrietta, the Volt sisters, grew up there. As the story begins it is the year 2000 and the sisters have just found out that back on the island their father has died.
Neither sister had been living there. One moved away years ago. The other was off at college. Their father’s death forces these two once inseparable sisters to reunite as they must return to the island for the funeral and to deal with estate matters.
Their father was a poet; he resided in the Victorian mansion where his daughters grew up. When Beatrice was two years old her mother died under mysterious circumstances. The elder Volt eventually remarried. His second wife, Carrie, is Henrietta’s mother. When that second marriage ended in 1989 Carrie and the second Volt daughter, Henrie, moved away from the island.
The author pivots back and forth between the present, during the year 2000, and the past, the year 1989, when so much weirdness took place in the haunted mansion and the accursed limestone quarry nearby. The original Volt ancestor built the mansion and had the quarry dug.
The abandoned water filled quarry contains many secrets. When the Volt girls were young they liked to swim there. Despite the fact that Beatrice’s mother apparently died there. They cannot be sure; she was never found. Other women have died there, too. That’s why it is cursed. So is the house.
The story unfolds via constant flashbacks to 1989 from four main points of view, the viewpoints of each sister, and additional points of view from the second wife, Carrie, and a woman named Sonia, who is the curator of the museum on the island.
There’s something evil within the mansion and beneath the island. When the Volt ancestor dug the quarry he apparently unleashed some sort of mysterious entity. What is it? Well, you’ll need to read the book to find out. Suffice it to say that this whole affair becomes delectably creepy by the final third of the story.
Rachel Eve Moulton writes with vivid imagination and a wicked sense of humor. Beatrice gives us some background: “the women disappear, mostly tourists, but sometimes Fowlers and a Volt, leaving only their trinkets on the quarry cliff above the Killing Pond, and then we must ‘bury’ them anyway, plucking up body-size rocks in place of a corpse. My mom is one of those. A disappeared islander.”
Moulton was just interviewed on National Public Radio. Of course I did another interview with her on my radio program on WYSO. Rachel grew up in Yellow Springs. In her epilogue to this novel she writes about a community called Gaunt Creek. When I interviewed her she told me that Gaunt Creek is her fictional Yellow Springs and that her next book will be set there.
Vick Mickunas of Yellow Springs interviews authors every Saturday at 7 a.m. and on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. on WYSO-FM (91.3). For more information, visit www.wyso.org/programs/book-nook. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.