Monday, October 13, 2008

Troubled times had come to her hometown

I'm a sucker for the doom befalling a town story. They provide the author with the chance to showcase humanity's good and bad sides, although horror novelists love to emphasize the latter. So the Keeper was on my try list. I'd seen Sarah Langan promoted at Powell's which was a good sign. Like science fiction it is difficult to judge a horror book by its cover or by its blurbs. The spine of the book said it was suspense rather than horror, which I also took for a good sign, hoping it was code for well written horror.

The story isn't terribly original, in fact it reminded me quite a bit of the Shining, but I enjoyed reading it. The story is set in a decaying Maine milltown know as Bedford. The most peculiar resident is Susan Marley, a nearly mute local beauty gone to seed. She both methaphorically and eventually actually is the the nexus of all the town's misfortune and bad deeds. She is tied to the closed mill, scene of a number of crimes and host to the town's dark memory.

This is supernatural horror, a type I tend to prefer, but if you dislike ghost stories, this one is most definately not for you. While the story follows King in a number of ways, she ends the tale with a much more hopeful than King. In his stories, good never triumphs, it merely survives. Here we have a more optimistic take.

I am trying to think about why I liked the book and it came down to the basic sense of wanting to know how it ended. Langan populates Bedford with a number of (mostly weak and doomed) characters and I wanted to see how they fared in the coming doom. Langan also draws out the conclusion which kept the read interesting. I plan to read the follow up book.

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