The Cypress House
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The Cypress House

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  2,085 ratings  ·  396 reviews
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...more
Hardcover, 415 pages
Published January 24th 2011 by Little, Brown and Company (first published January 1st 2011)
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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 Gnomeo & Juliet movie because the damn thing expanded all over my screen if my cursor got w...more
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...more
"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...more
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...more
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. The Cypress House, 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...more
Is it possible to have loved a supernatural thriller more than I loved SO COLD THE RIVER? I didn't think so until I read THE CYPRESS HOUSE. This is an eerie, historic, wild book with the best swamp chase I've ever read. Definitely add to your to-read list.
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...more
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...more
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...more
William Bentrim
The Cypress House by Michael Koryta

This is a story of the great depression, the despair and the illicit means some used to survive. It is a love story in many ways as well as a crime and violence filled occult tale of how people can be trapped in situations beyond their control.

Michael Koryta is an artist. His characters have such life that it is simplicity itself to visualize them and their surroundings. I read the book while in Florida and found myself looking around for some of the scenery o...more
Jane Stewart
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 were used to create mystery and conflict. They did not make sense. Some were stupid. Several times I wanted to shake a c...more
Kelly Hager
So that I don't spoil anything, here's the synopsis from the back of the book: "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 passengers, he tries to warn them. Only nineteen-year-old Paul Brickhill believes him, and the two abandon the train, hoping to escape certain death. They continue south but soon are stranded...more
Cindy Meilink
Very seldom does a "perfect" book come along–a book with strong believable characters, an enthralling plot, and dialogue so rich that you can immerse yourself inside it–The Cypress House is such a book.

Arlen Wagner is a man with a gift, or a curse, depending on one's perspective. Arlen can see impending death. Having seen death reflected on the passengers of a train, he gets off with his riding companion and urges others to do the same. He and his younger friend, Paul, are the only passengers to...more
I loved this book. It was so easy to get drawn into the setting, characters and storyline. I also liked the "supernatural" element. Michael Koryta has a flawless writing style that just makes you want to keep reading. I will definitley be reading more of his books in the future.
Janette Fleming
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 passengers, he tries to warn them. Only 19-year-old Paul Brickhill believes him, and the two abandon the train, hoping to escape certain death. They continue south, but soon are stranded at the Cypress House--an isolated Gulf Coast boarding house run by the bea...more
I stumbled upon this book completely by accident one day whilst poking around my library’s fiction stacks. I had never heard of this Michael Koryta guy before but the unusual premise for this one grabbed my attention immediately, and a few enthusiastic reviews here on GR convinced me to give it a try.

This book is all kinds of awesome, and I think what I enjoyed about it the most is that it’s so hard to categorize –- it’s like ten genres in one. That isn't to say the book is confused, far from i...more
Imagine looking at a whole group of people and seeing a trace of smoke in all their eyes and knowing that that they will all be dead soon. This is what Arlen Wagner experienced one night on a Florida train. This was not the first time Arlen had premonitions of death and it wouldn’t be the last time. Arlen was unable to convince the other men to leave the train but nineteen-year-old Paul Brickhill respected Arlen and agreed to abandon the train. Arlen and Paul were headed for the Florida Keys to...more
This foreboding, spooky, believably supernatural story had me from the first line and I literally could not put the book down until I finished it. I very seldom carry a book around the house with me, but I did this one, taking every chance I could to read more about the isolated Florida Gulf Coast boarding house that our hero, Arlen Wagner finds himself stranded at. This story has all the things that draw me into a good book: a strong yet flawed hero;,a damsel in distress; a plot that twists an...more
Tonile {My Cup and Chaucer}
The Cypress House was the first novel I've read of Michael Koryta, and I think I'd pick up another one... I think. I literally just finished this, and perhaps reviewing it so soon won't do it the justice I think it deserves. It was strange, unusual, and altogether different from anything I've read in a long time. And I liked it! It definitely doesn't fit the mould of a 'whodunit' as so many of my previous reviews do, but it is an exciting thriller with just enough supernatural to make it enjoyab...more
This wasn’t at all what I expected. Despite the popularity of Koryta’s previous novel, So Cold the River, I haven’t read it yet, so this is my first experience with him. I was definitely not disappointed. Koryta gives us an unusual guy in an unusual situation, yet manages to make it all seem perfectly normal. Arlen’s "gift" — the ability to see that someone is "marked for death" — could have been the centerpiece of the story. In fact, I expected it to be. Instead, it’s just another thing about A...more
Likeable but disappointing tale from Koryta. It seems to go on forever and has too many dull spots, although the climax was enjoyable. A lot of promise in the story but it just never develops into the kind of book it seems to be aiming to be, which is a thriller with smarts. The writing is terrific and the characters are interesting, which makes it even more frustrating that the book wasn't better. I enjoy Koryta's later efforts much more, such as The Ridge and The Prophet, and his earlier books...more
This was not a bad little mystery/thriller. If you like the work of Dean Koontz, (I do) you'll probably easily get onboard with this story. It definitely pulls you in with a couple of great protagonists from page one. BUT, unlike Koontz, I don't know if it keeps you onboard.

It's pretty good escapism. If anything keeps it from being GREAT escapism, IMHO, it is the standard-textbook love story taking place on the side of the larger paper-back-mystery/thriller-story. I suppose it needed to be the...more
Crystal Craig
My first Michael Koryta novel was “So Cold the River”, which is one of my favorite books. I recommend it to everyone. I was excited to begin “The Cypress House”. The cover has the same eerie look to it as So Cold the River does; unfortunately, the story was nowhere near as good.

My attention was grabbed immediately as I read the first few chapters. The events on the train sucked me right into the thick of things. Right away I felt the creepy, mysterious vibe that Koryta evokes so well in his boo...more
Bree T
The Cypress House opens on a train. Arlen Wagner, a verteran of the great War is dozing as the train makes its way towards Florida where he and a bunch of other men, all veterans and construction types bar one, are on their way to pick up more work on CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) projects down in that state. As the train passes over the border into northern Florida, Wagner notices that one of the man’s hand has turned to skeleton.

Wagner has a rare and strange gift in that he can see death b...more
Cypress House is the type of book that's hard to review because the book is full of intrigue and mystery, with lots of questions to be answered, and spoiling any part of that would ruin what I consider to be wonderful storytelling. There is a certain feeling that comes with reading a Depression era novel, something slow and lazy, full of heartbreak, with lives being forever changed, and Cypress House has that same tone. It's hard to describe, which is why I am no author, but I could hear these v...more
Scott Rhee
Michael Koryta's latest suspense thriller is a slight departure from his usual crime novels, but it is a satisfying departure. "The Cypress House" is set during the '30s, during the era of the Depression and Prohibition. The story's protagonist, Arlen Wagner, has the supernatural ability to see when a man is going to die. Death shows itself to him as a flicker of smoke reflected in the victim's eyes. He can't see how they will die, only that it will happen soon. When he sees the smoke flicker in...more
I've liked the other Kortya novels I've read, but I wasn't wild about this one. I actually almost stopped reading because it was just too slowly paced for me. I find it difficult to skim Kortya's novels because he does have some nuisances that are worth catching and he's a good storyteller. But I did some skimming in this book.

The story is about Arlen Wagner, who can see dying people, or people who are going to die. It's an interesting twist that he doesn't see the ghosts, but he sees gray smoke...more
I’ve just finished reading Michael Koryta’s latest spine-chilling thriller called “Cypress House”, a novel that spans 57 chapters and split into five parts, and I have to say I’m completely exhausted! After gorging on his beautifully crafted vocabulary, Cypress House left me completely breathless.

I had the pleasure of reading Koryta’s “So Cold the River” in September last year (which incidentally reached number three in my top 15 books of 2010), a wonderful book that was “hypnotic and hauntingly...more
The former visual bookshelf app once proved very useful, offering me this 2010 recommendation that I'd never heard of, by an author I'd never heard of, with a book that didn't make the NY Times Bestseller list but makes you wonder why not. This is a great mix of historical fiction, mystery/thriller and supernatural horror. The protagonist is in a small town on the Gulf side of the Florida peninsula during the Great Depression. His goal is to get to the Keys. In the meantime, he gets tangled up w...more
Emmaline Soken
I got an autographed copy of this book since my fiance is from the author's hometown and I really, really wanted to like the novel. Much it is good. Koryta has a strong grasp on plot and I liked the post-WWI setting and how that war haunts the main character, Arlen, and colors much of his personality. It's a fast-paced, intriguing read.

HOWEVER, my biggest complaint is Koryta's writing of the novel's sole female character, Rebecca. Initially, she is an infuriatingly stoic, mysterious beauty who...more
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Michael Koryta (pronounced ko-ree-ta)has written nine novels, praised by such authors as Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Michael Connelly and Dennis Lehane, and his most recent novel, THE PROPHET, was called "Friday Night Lights meets In Cold Blood...a flawless performance" by Kirkus. His last three novels, THE RIDGE, THE CYPRESS HOUSE, and SO COLD THE RIVER were all New York Times notable books and no...more
More about Michael Koryta...
So Cold the River The Prophet Those Who Wish Me Dead The Ridge Tonight I Said Goodbye (Lincoln Perry Series #1)

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