The Keeper

Sarah Langan, Author . Harper Torch $6.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-06-117302-8

In her assured but overstuffed horror debut, Langan lovingly crafts the struggling town of Bedford, Maine, its unlucky inhabitants and the troubling history of the town's shuttered paper mill, before tearing it all to bloody pieces. Bedford is haunted by the beautiful Susan Marley, a damaged young woman who wanders the streets and never speaks a word, stirring "feeling[s] of something undone, something quite wrong, at the sight of her." Those feelings are strongest in Susan's maladjusted little sister, Liz, wracked with guilt over Susan's fate; their mother, who refuses to acknowledge her wayward daughter's existence; and alcoholic high school teacher Paul Martin, who once had an affair with Susan. Susan's fall to her death in the final, rain-soaked days of winter triggers a series of events that bring the buried secrets of the town to terrifying reality—people and animals rise from the dead, and a spirit of homicidal rage grips the living. Fighting to survive, Langan's characters come brilliantly to life, their inner conflicts rendered in sharp but exhausting detail at once expansive and constricting, slowing the narrative to a crawl just before it whips into frenzied, graphic violence. This is horror on a big scale, akin to the more ambitious work of Stephen King, and though Langan's enormous imagination can slow her narrative, this effective debut promises great things to come. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 08/28/2006
Release date: 00/00/0000
Genre: Fiction
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