In this most gothic of Robert McCammon's novels, setting is key: the continuing saga of the Usher family (descended from the brother of Roderick and Madeline of Edgar Poe's "Fall of the House of Usher") takes place in the weird and picturesque heart of the North Carolina mountains. The haughty, aristocratic Ushers live in a mansion near Asheville; the poor but crafty mountain folk (whose families are just as ancient) live on Briartop Mountain nearby. At harvest time, when the book's action unfolds, the mountains are a blaze of color. Add to the mixture a sinister history of mountain kids disappearing every year, a journalist investigating those disappearances, a monster called "The Pumpkin Man," moldy books and paintings in a huge old library at the Usher estate, and a secret chamber with a strange device involving a brass pendulum and tuning forks--and you've got a splendid recipe for atmospheric horror. Originally published: New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1984.