Advance Praise for The Hound of Westover County:
The title and opening pages recall The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle, and the chapters that follow draw from classic supernatural fiction — Sheridan Le Fanu, Algernon Blackwood —to create a thoroughly modern story about a man and a woman in a haunted wilderness.
—John Miller, author of The First Assassin and The Big Scrum: How Teddy Roosevelt Saved Football
Custred, a professor of folklore, takes readers into the secret world of the Amish in the American Midwest. The novella takes place in Westover County, a shrinking community of Pennsylvania Dutch, forgotten by time and "scattered across the countryside like relics of times past" since the settlement's primary industry, grain processing, was outsourced to a nearby town. Custred follows two characters of the region--Stanley, a carpenter with a bachelor's degree in English; and Katie, the eldest daughter of a domineering Amish father and caretaker of her little siblings. Separately, Stanley and Katie have disturbingly close encounters with a menacing animal presence, though each dismisses their respective experiences as superstition. When Stanley inherits some money from his only relative, he builds a cabin on a remote river; soon after, he and Katie meet and marry. Custred spends the majority of the book setting the scene and describing the quiet, uneventful practicality of a country marriage, with the most dynamic action being inclement weather--until the phantasm of the beast begins to draw Katie out into the bleak night, with terrible consequences. ...Custred does an admirable job of creating an uneasy atmosphere in this brief book...
The Hound of Westover County tells of a small journey from light to darkness, yet this journey is magnified by the terrifying vastness of the wilderness that lies outside our windows and inside our hearts. Glynn Custred has impressive insight into the place where logic, madness, and mysticism meet, and he possesses an implicit understanding of the subtleties of the passing seasons and the natural world. Rather than opt for the easy answers, The Hound of Westover County tackles its difficult subject with the respect it deserves. This novel is quiet as a snow-stilled night, deep and unsettling as a springtime river gorged by the thaw.
—Adam Grydehøj, folklore lecturer, Founder and Director of Island Dynamics
The mythic past of folk memory is not only robust, it is dangerously ambivalent to humans. Utterly charming from its opening pages, The Hound of Westover County is a poetic and beautifully written novel that explores the impact that ancient folk beliefs have on the lives of two people living on the cusp of dramatic 20th century societal change. Custred's work, reminiscent of Wendell Berry's poem, "The Birth (Near Port William)," Thomas Tryon's Harvest Home, and Sir James Frazier's The Golden Bough, shows us how powerfully ancient myths, legends, and folklore affect our supposed rational world. Custred is to be commended for reminding us that ancient folk mythology is still here, creeping into our lives at times, unwilling to be denied today.
—Richard L. King, Reference Librarian, Vincennes University in Indiana