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Blackwater: The Complete Caskey Family Saga

(Blackwater #1-6)

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  2,495 ratings  ·  411 reviews
Michael McDowell was proclaimed “the finest writer of paperback originals in America” by Stephen King, and “one of the best writers of horror in this country” by Peter Straub.

Now, McDowell’s masterpiece—the serial novel, Blackwater—returns to thrill and terrify a new generation of readers, with all six volumes available for the first time as a single e-book.

Featuring an in
Kindle Edition, 895 pages
Published August 28th 2014 by Tough Times Publishing (first published August 28th 1983)
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Jennifer Saylor Maybe Elinor's body changing as the river covered it, or Frances and Nerita, in monster form, coming to claim her body.…moreMaybe Elinor's body changing as the river covered it, or Frances and Nerita, in monster form, coming to claim her body.(less)
Kate Etheridge I saw someone describe it in a review saying "the frightening moments are few but sudden and well written." I will say that the last half of the book …moreI saw someone describe it in a review saying "the frightening moments are few but sudden and well written." I will say that the last half of the book has several more "frightening moments," increasing in intensity and frequency until the end. Without giving away spoilers, it would be hard to tell someone I don't know how scary it is.(less)

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Justin Tate
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Blackwater is unlike anything you've ever read, or ever will. Though categorized as a southern gothic and shelved in the horror section (when it's not out-of-print) it defies genre in almost every way. As a character-driven epic spanning multiple generations, it often feels closer to Harper Lee or William Faulkner than Stephen King. But other times, always when you least expect it, it is very much a horror novel. Not King, however, nor Lovecraft. It's a quiet, creeping horror that doesn't exactl ...more
Blackwater: The Complete Saga on audio is absolutely phenomenal! Phenomenal! That's right, it's so good, it deserves two PHENOMENALS.

First-about the book itself. Michael McDowell was a force to be reckoned with as far as writing about family dynamics. If you've read The Elementals, Gilded Needles, or Cold Moon over Babylon, (and if you haven't you SHOULD), you already know that McDowell writes about families like no one else. Now imagine those books expanded to cover several generations of one
Dan Schwent
When Oscar Caskey finds the mysterious Elinor Dammert on the second floor of a hotel during a great flood, he brings her home and falls in love with her. But Elinor isn't what she seems and Mary-Love, Oscar's mother and matriarch of the Caskey clan, doesn't want Oscar marrying her...

That's the setup but it's just scratching the surface. How do you write a teaser for an 800 page epic?

My cohort Anthony Vacca recommended this and Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fic
Jen/The Tolkien Gal/ジェニファー
And so this is going in my top ten books of all time

I cannot tell you how this series has kept me going after the past few months yet made me cry so much. Review to come

It begins with:
Image result for blackwater saga

And ends with:
Image result for blackwater saga

Thanks for the recommendation from the lovely Char (and my mother in-law)
Jul 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was ... epic. There are a few family sagas out there in book format and I'm usually not all too interested in them. This one, however, promised to be a horror story besides and it was about a little town in Alabama surrounded by swamp and mystery (perfect theme to read about in summer). Let me say it right at the beginning: this is NOT a horror story. Not really. Did that mar my enjoyment? Not one bit!

We start in 1919 when a flood has destroyed much in the little town of Perdido, Alabama.
Oct 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
River monster crawls out of river, marries scion of rich Southern family, embroils self in soap opera family shenanigans, occasionally tears townspeople limb from limb. It's the GREAAATESTTT ...more
Cindy Newton
Nov 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I never thought I would describe a book billed as "horror" as charming, but this so is! I enjoyed the tale of this quirky southern family so much, and I miss them terribly now that it is over. When I started the book, I wasn't sure about it at all. I had my doubts about the narrator, too. I had just finished The Amulet by the same author, and the narrator for that book was very southern. This narrator grew on me, however, and became markedly more southern as the book progressed. His voices for t ...more
Jun 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Blackwater by Michael McDowell is much more than a horror novel!!
He has created an atmospheric and dense Southern gothic..
With believable characters full of life!!

Published 1983 and released in six monthly installments..

Welcome in Perdido Alabama!!
Perdido is a little southern town in the early-to-mid 20th century..

Like the tv series Dallas or Falcon Crest, both family sagas, so is Blackwater a Southern family saga!!
Blackwater tells the story of the rich and powerful Caskey clan..

The focus of th
Jul 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Epic Southern Family Sagas generally automatically qualify as a Horror genre. IMHO. Deeply creepy, sometimes charming, often batshit crazy, and interspersed with WTF. That's just my normal reaction, however.

Blackwater, on the other hand, raises the water to a new level.

I'm not saying this is all that scary, despite King and Straub lauding this serial novel (combined here as one long novel). But all the elements are here. We're meant to love or really, really hate the characters for their actions
Dec 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: all-time-favs
More than 5 stars! Both listened to and read this Saga. Audio is about 30 hours and paperback is 788 pages comprised of 85 chapters of tiny print. I am someone that speeds through long books and avoids tiny print at any cost; but on this one I did a 180. I loved this book and thank Char for introducing me to it through her review and recommendation. For this book, I savored every page and the closer I got to the ending, the more I dreaded it was about to be over for I would no longer know the Ca ...more
Anthony Vacca
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Truly a Southern Gothic epic, replete with generations of likable characters, vengeful ghosts and an amphibian femme fatale. This wonderful novel, first published in serial format, has received new interest thanks to Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction. And now Valancourt rewards us all with a lovely new collected edition! My reviews for each of the six installments can be found below:

The Flood
The Levee
The House
The War
The Fortune
Tom Mathews
I'm a big fan of the late Michael McDowell, which probably explains why I would be willing to tackle this 800+ page southern gothic tome. I'm very glad I did. In Blackwater, McDowell tells the lives of four generations of the Caskey family of Perdido, Alabama. The story centers on Eleanor Caskey, a woman who appeared mysteriously during a catastrophic flood in 1919 and died half a century later during the next flood to destroy Perdido. Readers come to know intimately all of the members of the Ca ...more
Roxie |The Book Slayer| Voorhees

“She hates that levee the way you and I hate hell and the Republicans.”

In another Southern Gothic classic, McDowell paints quite a picture. Surrounded by swampy lands and wrap around porches, the Caskey family takes in a stranger after a flood in 1919.  This stranger, Elinor, changes this family; changes it for the better. But she has a secret that she can't even tell her new husband, Oscar.

The Saga spans over 50 years and four generations
Angus McKeogh
Oct 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
First thing I’ll say is wow this was long but it really is a six-novel series mashed into one. It was also my first McDowell. Supposed to be Southern Gothic in tradition. But the best I can figure is Southern Gothic means uneventful with a sprinkling of supernatural events. Not scary by any means so I wouldn’t suggest it as horror fiction which I’ll admit was kind of what I was thinking going in. Reads like a mishmash between The Shape of Water and The Thornbirds. And I’ll say it wasn’t ever ter ...more
Jul 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
Overall, I'm giving the series 4 stars, and a short review.

From the onset, the Blackwater series was right up my alley: southern family saga, and for a bit of fun, throw a swamp monster into the mix.

The series had some ebbs and flows for me. Book one was a very strong start, and through book three, the family story was quite interesting. Of course, the most interesting thing was the anticipation of how this was all going to pan out. Which is why this didn't maintain the 5 star status I had going
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a fine example of an epic, historical, Southern Gothic, supernatural, generational family drama, noir, soap opera, mystery, thriller with a bit of horror sprinkled on top.
Jan 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I believe this book is now my favorite book. Originally written as a series, I read the edition with all the smaller books combined into one. I'd heard it was magnificent and didn't want to have to be continuously buying each new one. Michael McDowell created an epic story of multiple generations in a small Alabama town. There is an element of underlying creatures that bump in the night but it is so small that it really just blends in to the beautiful whole. This is the only book I've read by Mc ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
I've included this article that I came across when searching for information about McDowell, an author that I felt I stumbled upon and have since wondered why I hadn't found him earlier in my life -- why I hadn't heard his name in some reading group, or one of my literature classes.
my link text
I agree that author Michael McDowell is an underrated author, who just happens to be from Alabama. This novel, or the combined series of the Caskey Family Sagas, is in my opinion McDowell's best work, a m
Nov 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Southern Gothic families, evil domineering mother-in-laws, genteel child-eating river monsters
Y'all, this is a Southern Gothic to drown all other Southern Gothics in a bathtub full of muddy river water.

Originally a six-novel serial published back in the early 80s, during the heyday of the cheap horror paperbacks, the Caskey Family saga begins on Easter Sunday, 1919, and the great flood that nearly wipes out the small town of Perdido, Alabama. This is when Elinor Dammert appears — a mysterious young woman who just happens to be sitting in the upper floor of the flooded Osceola Hotel in do
May 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars. Review originally published at Fantasy Literature.

Michael McDowell originally published the BLACKWATER horror series in six volumes (The Flood, The Levee, The House, The War, The Fortune, and Rain) in 1983. Some of the installments go for a pretty penny on the Internet these days, so it’s great that Valancourt Press released an omnibus edition, Blackwater: The Complete Saga (2017). This edition is the most cost-effective way to get your hands on this sprawling tale.

Blackwater is set i
Jessica Woodbury
I think this may be my favorite McDowell so far. It has all the Southern gothic pieces I've enjoyed from his other books, but in this long family epic, I got to really stretch out and luxuriate in it. This is my second 30+ hour listen of pandemic times and while it takes me a longer time to get through than it normally would, there's a real pleasure in staying in the same world and characters for so long.

I am usually not all that interested in family sagas, but this one I just let slowly meander
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, favorites, horror
Wow! This one took me F-O-R-E-V-E-R as I don't have a lot of free sit-down time. I'd meant to read it for the longest as it was often recommended and I loved THE ELEMENTALS. This book defies gravity. Is it fiction? Is it horror? What on earth is it? It was indeed a saga, the story of the Caskey family from 1919 through at least the 1960's. There were many excellent characters, both complicated and simple, who were rendered real by description and events. The fictional town of Perdido and its out ...more
David Haynes
Nov 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: special, 2017
What a book!

The story follows the fortunes of a wealthy Alabama family from before the depression right through to the modern era.

The supernatural element of the story and one or two of the main characters is never overplayed. In fact it is rarely mentioned or used in the tale but it is also at the heart of the family. As a result the casual way it's treated makes it more believable.

I found the epic nature so wonderfully drawn. As a result of the massive span of years there are a huge variety o
Oct 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
the absolute fucking greatest thing here is that this is written like a totally traditional Interloping Upstart Daughter Marries Her Way Into The Family story, except that the redheaded newcomer with high-handed ideals is. a swamp monster. from the literal swamp.
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was by far, well worth the delayed gratification. I'm so glad I finally got around to reading it and feel a bit bummed that I've finished it. Michael Mcdowell was a great writer, it's so sad that he's not alive and making more stories. I feel like he'd have aged well, and he would have cranked out a whole slew of great works. I'll bet the unwritten magnum opus would have been a worldwide phenomenon if he stuck around a few more decades...

The Caskey Family Saga was originally published in s
debbicat *made of stardust*
All the ⭐️!! And more!!! 10 if I could. This is quite amazing. Buddy read with Terry.

Review to follow.
Apr 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: southern-gothic
I'm a sucker for Southern Gothic and this book have everything I could dream about the genre. The great and detailed descriptions use a lot of vocabulary (although English is not my mother tongue, I have been reading books in that language for years and this is the first time I have use the dictionary so much) and you get plenty of muddy waters and dangerous swamps, hot Alabama nights and iced tea. If you are ok to learn the life and death of a family with more than 20 members from 1919 until ea ...more
Bryce Wilson
Oct 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Before I started reading McDowell's backcatalog I confess I found it curious that he spent the last decade of his life not writing novels, and the last fifteen years of his life not writing horror. After reading Blackwater it makes more sense as it's almost impossible to see how he could have pushed his aesthetic further. Everything that makes McDowell McDowell is here in a kind of maximalist grandeur. The equal balance between horror, southern gothic and slice of life. The panoramic viewpoint, ...more
Sep 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I added this one to my all time favs list. I don't want to give away to much of the story because that is half the fun in discovering it. It is a story about the Caskey family through the generations. It's easy to get attached to the characters because you see them born, see them live and see them to their ends. The book centers around the Caskey women all playing for the power to head the family. Then there was Elinor. The question remains what about Elinor? Loved her for all of her evil and go ...more
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Horror Aficionados : Blackwater (1983) by Michael McDowell 13 46 Oct 08, 2017 06:55AM  
Valancourt Books: Blackwater (1983) by Michael McDowell 1 18 Oct 03, 2017 04:36AM  
Valancourt Books: Coming soon: Blackwater by Michael McDowell 19 48 Oct 01, 2017 08:26AM  

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Michael McDowell is a prolific horror writer who has distinguished himself with a varied body of work within the genre. He was born in Enterprise, Alabama, in 1950 and died of AIDS-related illness in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1999.

His first horror novel, The Amulet, relates the tragedies that befall various individuals who come in possession of a supernatural pendant in a small town.

In McDowell's

Other books in the series

Blackwater (6 books)
  • The Flood (Blackwater, #1)
  • Blackwater: II The Levee (Blackwater, #2)
  • Blackwater III: The House (Blackwater, #3)
  • Blackwater IV: The War (Blackwater, #4)
  • Blackwater V: The Fortune (Blackwater, #5)
  • Blackwater VI: Rain (Blackwater, #6)

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