This book turned out to be a complete surprise package. I seem to have this weird habit of buying #Horror books from undiscovered alleys of Beach towns. Last time I did this, was in Gokarna – where I wandered into a run-down second hand bookstore and discovered The Passage, Justin Cronin. I did it again on this vacation – in one of Goa’s busiest alley, I found a book store and look what gem I uncovered – The Keeper. A debut novel that came out in 2006 by Sarah Langan!!
The Keeper is a horror novel – often described as the intelligent, literary horror book that brings forth new hope for the genre. Sarah has been hailed by the brightest new light in this dark genre that desperately needs some re-inventing.
Set in a rain-lashed suburbia town of New England (Funny how most American horror stories are set in New England? Blame Mr.King huh?) where a single girl haunts everybody’s dreams and nightmares with prophetic visions of blood and destruction, the keeper is an atmospheric tale that is chocked up with grey characters, each vividly drawn out with a big bad past and hoarding secrets like crazy and wonderfully written in a strong confident tone reminiscent of the Genre’s greatest, Stephen King or Peter Straub. Indeed with some glowing blurbs and recommendations, I decided to delve straight into this nightmarish town with its violent secrets waiting to be spilled.
This one kept me up long past bedtime and I scrunched it down in about three sittings. First half where Sarah patiently draws up the colorful melancholic canvas and introduces us to the characters is bloody brilliant. Top notch writing – in depth characterization, beautiful haunting passages about the town and the specter – Susan Marley is definitely one of the most unforgettable characters drawn up – slow-burning atmosphere that builds up on the creep-o-meter and the dread continues to build through the first half as we wait for the town to finally implode. Second half unfortunately is a little haphazardly handled – choppy, disturbingly violent in parts, tepid and dis-enchanted in parts. This wayward treatment of all the hard work she put in earlier gets washed away in the persistent thunder-showers that is probably the only good thing written about in the second half.
Sarah Langan is a good find and I might pick up her next few books. The Keeper is a solid four stars in the first half while meandering and repetitive and thus, a little boring in the second half, deserving nothing more than two stars.