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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,480 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Michael Koryta Narrator: Robert Petkoff Publisher: Hachette Book Group Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2011 ISBN: 9781607886815
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A journey to Florida’s coast becomes an inescapable nightmare in this 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 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 are soon stranded at the Cypress House—an isolated Gulf Coast boarding house run by the beautiful Rebecca Cady—directly in the path of an approaching hurricane.

The storm isn’t the only approaching danger, though. A much deadlier force controls the county and everyone living in it, and Arlen wants out—fast. However, Paul refuses to abandon Rebecca to face the threats alone, even though Arlen’s eerie gift warns that if they stay too long they may never leave. From its chilling beginning to terrifying end, The Cypress House is a story of relentless suspense from “one of the best of the best” (Michael Connelly).

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Quotes & Awards

  • An icy, terrifying winner. So Cold the River puts an October chill in your blood by the end of the first chapter. It's not much longer before you've turned on all the lights and rechecked all the window locks. Few novelists warrant mention alongside Stephen King or Peter Straub. Michael Koryta, however, earns comparison to both. Dennis Lehane
  • Kortya's SO COLD THE RIVER is an example of the good-writing equals good-reading equation that makes fright-inducing fiction worthy of our time, attention, and real enjoyment. Dan Simmons, author of The Terror and Drood
  • So Cold the River is a great story, but what held me was the lean, clean prose and the sharp presentation of scenes and dialogue. Michael Koryta is a good story teller and a wonderful stylist. Joe R. Lansdale
  • The Cypress House is a unique and entertaining blend of noir and paranormal suspense, with a tightly controlled supernatural thread a as believable as the gunplay. Mr. Koryta is at the start of what will surely be a great career. He’s now on my must-read list.”

    Dean Koontz, #1 New York Times bestselling author


    "This book builds like a summer storm. Beautiful to watch until it shakes the house and knocks out the lights, leaving you alone in the dark. Another masterful work from Michael Koryta, SO COLD THE RIVER is guaranteed to put the cold finger down your spine.
    Michael Connelly
  • Michael Koryta is a gifted storyteller. His writing reminded me of the great Ruth Rendell--eerie, suspenseful, and pleasantly wicked. If you're looking for a dose of Midwestern Gothic at its best, SO COLD THE RIVER will be just the thing for you. Scott Smith, author of A Simple Plan and The Ruins
  • “The last scenes in the novel, just as eerie, verify Koryta’s knack for putting a supernatural spin on the angst depicted in classic noir fiction.”

    New York Times 

  • "A deliciously dark tale. Koryta is a fantastic storyteller.”

    Scott Smith, New York Times bestselling author

  • The Cypress House is a dazzling blend of suspense, the supernatural, and superb storytelling. What a gifted writer. Michael Koryta is the real deal.”

    Ron Rash, New York Times bestselling author

  • The Cypress House builds to a seriously tense and twisted final act.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “When it comes to plot and suspense, Koryta knows what he’s doing. He paces the novel masterfully.”

    Columbus Dispatch

  • The Cypress House begins with pulse-racing promise [and] sprints to a filmic, white-knuckled finish.”

    Cleveland Plain Dealer

  • “In Michael Koryta’s The Cypress House…he makes this curious mix of supernatural prescience and gothic noir work with a seamless atmospheric certainty.”

    Houston Chronicle

  • “Michael Koryta is mining Stephen King territory and carving out a spot all his own.”

    Women’s World

  • “Koryta’s masterful follow-up to So Cold the River effectively combines supernatural terror with the suffocating fatalism of classic American noir…Koryta excels at describing both scenery and his characters’ inner landscapes. It’s hard to think of another book with equal appeal to Stephen King and Cornell Woolrich fans.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Koryta masterfully weaves together disparate threads (organized crime; drifters; a haunted, beautiful woman; powerful men; an isolated boardinghouse; the great hurricane of 1935) in a story where every decision can cause your death—or help you escape it. Verdict: Koryta’s second attempt at supernatural suspense after So Cold the River offers a much richer experience with better developed characters and more polished storytelling. Murder mystery and ghost story fans will want first crack at this new title. Highly recommended for all public libraries.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “The eerie but fascinating tale follows the efforts of the two men, along with Rebecca Cady...to survive not only the massive 1935 hurricane which caused severe death and destruction but the human forces that ruled the area. Written with an excellent eye for describing life during the Great Depression, the novel also exhibits a deep view of human emotions... Highly recommended.”

    Midwest Book Review

  • “Following up his acclaimed gothic, So Cold the River, Koryta blends gritty noir and ghostly visions...the novel builds to a richly satisfying climax...A commanding performance.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Narrator Robert Petkoff knows just how to manipulate his voice to send shivers down listeners’ spines in this ever-so-slightly supernatural story of corruption and death in Depression-era Florida. Arlen has the gift—or curse—of being able to see when another person is approaching death. In this otherwise straightforward novel of suspense, Arlen’s paranormal ability might be a hard sell, but Petkoff conveys his emotions so convincingly that listeners will never question the plot device. The Cypress House is a creepy tale that will keep listeners wondering what the next twist will bring. A 2012 Audies finalist.”


  • Finalist for the 2012 Audie Award for Paranormal

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ctroskoph | 2/19/2014

    " I recently read the lastest Dennis Lehane novel and was disappointed. It lacked everything that I loved about Mystic River and Shutter Island. The Cypress House filled that void. This is a great mystery with great characters and that supernatural element that takes it beyond the "normal" mystery novel. I will definitely continue to read Koryta's books. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sarah | 2/12/2014

    " An atmostpheric, historical setting saves this suspense novel. Koryta delivers a tale of smuggling and corruption with a slight supernatural twist. The middle gets bogged down under some repetitive courses of action/conversations, but it picks up again as the climax draws near. For fans of the kind of weird or suspense fans looking for something out of the ordinary. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Megan | 1/31/2014

    " Supernatural-ish thriller from Kortya, who seems to be carving out a niche for the noir and the spooky. While I thought his previous book So Cold the River was better, both books suffer from slightly too sluggish pacing to be called real page-turners. But for The Cypress House, the imagery of the smoke-filled eyes heralding imminent death was really effective. I also enjoyed the remote house in the bayou, the sad-eyed woman in over her head, the violence on the doorsteps: all such great film noir elements. The similarities to Key Largo can't all be accidental. The opening of the book was just fantastic, but when the gangster plot takes over, the supernatural elements all but disappear, only making a strong appearance at the very end. That was a little disappointing, as it felt like he could have done more with Arlen's gift. I can't wait to see what Kortya does next, though, as even with these criticisms, this was a fun read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joyce Adams | 1/28/2014

    " Extremely violent but a page turner that kept me hooked. Also drawn in by the local color of Florida. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Annmarie | 1/4/2014

    " Supernatural-tinged thriller that reminds me of Stephen King or Joe Hill, where the tension just keeps ratcheting up. World weary WWI veteran Arlen Wagner is on a train bound for some Civilian Conservation Corps work in the Florida Keys during the Great Depression, when he starts to see the supernatural signs of impending doom- smoky eyes and skeletal features- overlaid on the faces of the CCC men in the train with him. It's a talent, or curse, that he developed during the war. Only young Paul Brickhill agrees to disembark the train with him in mainland Florida, and they hitch a ride with a fellow who brings them to Cypress House on the Gulf, a strangely empty boarding house run by beautiful, grim young Rebecca Cady. Soon enough they find that while they have escaped whatever would befall the men on the train, they've found themselves in a corrupt town filled with dangerous men, and an impending hurricane to boot. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Suzanne | 12/28/2013

    " "unique blend of noir and paranormal suspense"-Dean Koontz Set in 1930s Florida this book gripped my imagination. Good book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ed Ingman | 12/16/2013

    " Pretty interesting book. There were some slow sections (right before and after Paul left), but generally it kept me guessing until the end. I would have liked the author to either play up the supernatural more or leave it out altogether. It doesn't get enough play to make sense. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Anne | 12/13/2013

    " I enjoyed the story. The seeing skeletons part just turned me off. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Circe | 12/3/2013

    " Started off good, but then I got bored. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kristen Barr | 11/29/2013

    " A gripping tale of suspense, terror, and the supernatural. Though this book is set in 1935, it captures the so much of the problems of today. It is a multi-layered, thoughtful book that doesn't stint on action. I couldn't put it down once I started it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tory Wagner | 11/23/2013

    " A gread read with a dark, creepy atmosphere. The descriptions of the surroundings add a great dimension to the story. I especially liked the final battle scene in the swamp. Good ending although rather predictable. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Juliann | 5/2/2013

    " Really more like 4.5 stars. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tamera | 5/2/2013

    " I enjoy his writing style and mix of reality, thriller, supernatural overtones. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Erica | 2/2/2013

    " This was one of those books where even when I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about it. The building tension throughout the story was crazy! Looking foward to reading more by Mr. Koryaa! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 C. Atteridge | 9/4/2012

    " nice combo of mystery, paranormal, machismo and the depression era! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kendra | 7/19/2012

    " This was classified as horror, and I would say it is very light horror, more suspenseful. The characters had depth, but were easily swayed which bothered me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lorie | 6/14/2012

    " It was so good that I had to stay up past my bedtime to finish it. A great blend of unexpected twists, history, and paranormal abilities. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shaon | 10/7/2011

    " The Great Depression was the real horror in this tale. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Barbara Bryan | 9/13/2011

    " Arlen can see who is going to die when he looks at them. His dad could too. He ends up in Florida at Cypress House and ends up staying to try to help overcome the crooked sheriff and Mayor or whatever. I hated Paul and he ruined the book for me. But it kept my interest. Listened to it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Debra | 8/15/2011

    " Although I do not normally read horror or supernatural books, Micheal Koryta sets his scenes well enough that the weirdness seems almost believeable. I did really enjoy this one. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Dave Brown | 5/24/2011

    " Was ok...not sure the supernatural aspect was needed...or maybe it needed more. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joe | 5/18/2011

    " Nice! This is my first book by Koryta. I haven't enjoyed a book of the thriller/mystery genre in quite a while. I would defintiely find myself reading another sometime soon. Very well written riveting work of fiction. Petkoff is the perfect narrator for Koryta's work. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Vicki | 5/12/2011

    " Arlen Wagner has an unusual skill - he can see death in the eyes of people approaching doom. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Annie | 5/10/2011

    " Good suspense and interesting story. It took me about 100 pages to get into it but by the end I really enjoyed it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Anna | 4/23/2011

    " Sort of a soft core Stephen King type thriller that appears to exist for no other reason than sheer entertainment -- which is does fairly suffieciently. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Hrn1947 | 4/14/2011

    " guy who can see death. good story. a little wordy. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Savannah | 4/13/2011

    " I liked it but I don't know... There was just something about it that made me not love it. My mom feels the same way when we discuss it. So if you are going to read this be prepared to like it, probably not love it though. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sheepez | 4/11/2011

    " Found this much more satisfying than So Cold the River. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Willette | 4/9/2011

    " I listened to this book, which isn't the same as reading it, but I LOVED the story. The narrator was first rate. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mary | 4/7/2011

    " I have got to say that I struggled with this book. I found that it just did not pull me into the story. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cheryl | 4/6/2011

    " Different from anything I've read. Good story keeps you interested till the end. "

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About the Author
Author Michael Koryta

Michael Koryta is the New York Times bestselling author of twelve novels, most recently Rise the Dark. His previous novels—including Last Words, Those Who Wish Me Dead, and So Cold The River—were New York Times notable books, national bestsellers, and have been nominated for numerous awards, including having won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Koryta is a former private investigator and newspaper reporter. He lives in Bloomington, Indiana, and Camden, Maine.

About the Narrator

Robert Petkoff is an audiobook narrator who has won a prestigious Audie Award and twenty AudioFile Earphones Awards. He has appeared on Chappelle’s Show, Law & Order, and Quantum Leap. His Broadway credits include Sir Robin in Spamalot, Perchik in Fiddler on the Roof, and Tateh in Ragtime.