Friday, May 22, 2009

The Keeper by Sarah Langan

The Keeper is a pretty good horror novel. Sure the story's been done before (unspeakable evil destroys small Maine town), but Sarah Langan is a very talented writer. I actually started losing my shit when I thought bad things were about to happen to my favorite character (bad things did happen, but not what I thought). The characters and relationships are all handled very well, even the tertiary characters. Langan manages to bring depth to characters who only get maybe a few paragraphs. It's impressive, really, that by the end you feel like you know the people in Bedford, you're familiar with the different families. It's great because when you care so much about so many characters, it makes it really difficult to predict who is going to be killed off. In lesser novels you may only be really introduced to a few characters, and it's usually pretty easy to pick out which ones are being set up to die. Not so in The Keeper.

The story is actually pretty complicated to spell out here, but if you're interested AlabamaPink (RIP) did a wonderful review over at Pajiba. The Basics: Susan Marley, once a pretty, normal girl, has withered away, both physically and mentally. She wanders the town daily (and through the dreams of the townfolk), never speaking. People say she's a witch. Her former lover, Paul Martin, failed-husband, high school teacher, and town drunk, tries to help Susan and unwittingly sets in motion events that lead to horrifying evil being released upon Bedford. Susan's sister, Liz, is the protagonist of the story, but it's hard to say if she's the main character. Liz and her boyfriend Bobby (the son of Bedford's only doctor) have dreams of moving out of Bedford and never returning, but Susan has other plans for them.

Really there are so many secondary and tertiary characters that it's impossible to even begin to list. And I can't tell my favorite parts of the story without giving away some of the plot. It's not the best horror novel I've read (that title still belongs to King's 'Salem's Lot) but it's definitely worth a read.

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