Ever since her father was killed when she was just a child, Miranda Crabtree has kept her head down and her eyes up, ferrying contraband for a mad preacher and his declining band of followers to make ends meet and to protect an old witch and a secret child from harm. But dark forces are at work in the bayou, both human and supernatural, conspiring to disrupt the rhythms of Miranda’s peculiar and precarious life.
... arguably the perfect horror novel. It may well be the perfect novel, period, or at least on a shortlist of such titles ... a mind-numbing, nightmarish turn of southern gothic with supernatural elements clashing with humanity’s best and worst impulses, narrated with literary prose of the highest order. I was by turns reminded of Cormac McCarthy’s first several novels, W.W. Jacobs, August Derleth and Erskine Caldwell, among others. However, the originality of Davidson’s unique voice shines through the wonderful and distinctive babble of those who have come before him ... Davidson leaves no atrocity unmentioned in The Boatman's Daughter, yet there is not a gratuitous act in the book. It is the darkest of tales, beautifully but unflinchingly told, full of violence, sacrifice and --- however unexpectedly --- redemption, written as if composed while listening to the David Eugene Edwards songbook played at full volume. You will never get this book, its characters or its author out of your head or your nightmares after reading it.
... another hauntingly lyrical story that draws readers in with complicated characters and a foreboding setting ... Davidson’s style is restrained, with a slow burn that explodes at the novel’s midpoint, making room for the plot to breathe and unravel toward the satisfying conclusion. This horror novel can claim its rightful place alongside new Southern Gothics like Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing (2017), Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone (2006), and Wiley Cash’s A Land More Kind Than Home (2012).
Davidson never gives too much away too quickly, and rarely over-explains the magic on the bayou that his characters are aware of but barely understand ... teases the supposed line between literary fiction and horror. The characters here are fully fleshed and dynamic, even the relatively minor ones like John Avery. Only Avery’s wife, the least-developed of the bit players, seems a touch contrived ... The writing is descriptive, rich, and enhances the action rather than restrains it. A few tics, like a penchant for splitting sentences with italicized interjections, supposedly giving us a character’s thoughts are more trouble than they’re worth ... even better than Davidson’s very good debut, which was a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award. This second effort — a frightening, sticky, damp story of the bayou — certainly delivers on the promise of the first.