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The Keeper by Sarah Langan

The Keeper

by Sarah Langan

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4592534,470 (3.07)28

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Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
Langan definitely has talent, and has crafted a rather intricate story about one town and its sordid history. The story is rather dark and it is hard to empathize with many of the characters. I also agree with another reviewer about the change 3/4 of the way through the novel, though pushing through to the ending is worth it. I was actually surprised at how much I liked the way the last few chapters wrapped up. I'm glad that I kept on to the end, and I'm definitely going to be keeping an eye out for more from Langan. ( )
  Caltania | Apr 26, 2018 |
Most of the reviews and comments on THE KEEPER make a point about mentioning it as Langan's debut novel. Now that I've done so too, let us ignore that because this is a great novel, period.

Susan Marley roams the streets of Bedford, Maine, looking for something or simply trying to connect. Considering that she doesn't speak, is considered the town slut and is ignored by her own mother, that desire for a connection is understood. When she dies one night though, horrible things start happening to the residents in town. The dead rise up and buried secrets come up to reality.

While supernatural elements are very much part of the story, they aren't quite as in your face as I expected. The book focuses more on the story and the characters, both of which are very rich and enjoyable. Unfortunately though, I didn't quite get pulled into the characters' lives. They were real and easy to picture but they just weren't quite fascinating to care that much about. Not something to avoid the book over but something to be aware of. Focus on enjoying the multiple plot threads that are nicely weaved together. Those make the novel worthwhile. ( )
  dagon12 | Jul 13, 2016 |
Bedford, Maine, is a town with one industry: the paper mill. It’s been poisoning the water and air for generations, and workers have all sorts of physical complaints from breathing sulfur and other toxic fumes, but if anyone thought about it, they’d know that the recent closing of the mill probably dooms their town.

But no one’s thinking about the mill and the town’s economy. Instead, they’re all focused on Susan Marley. She’s a silent, beautiful woman in her mid-20’s who lives in squalor, turning a trick now and then to stay supplied with Campbell’s tomato soup, which she eats straight out of the can. She appears nightly in just about everyone’s nightmares, making her a sort of literary ghost of Dickens’s Jacob Marley.

One of the people most haunted by Susan is her sister, Liz. Liz is in high school, and is planning to put Bedford behind her as soon as possible and never come back, beginning with going to college at the closest state university. As The Keeper opens, Liz is visiting her father’s grave to tell him just that when Susan shows up, dressed for a summer day even though it’s March — still winter in Maine — and physically attacks Liz. It should have been you, Susan tells her sister, silently, and Liz knows exactly what Susan is talking about, there, at her father’s grave.

Susan haunts the town. Her mother knew, at some level, what her husband was doing to her daughter, but chose not to see it. Paul Martin, a high school teacher who is a barely functional alcoholic, has used Susan’s body frequently as an escape from his depressed wife; but he also tries to take care of her from time to time, buying food, cleaning her apartment up a bit. Liz is physically threatened by Susan more than once, in the real world and in her dreams. Liz’s boyfriend, Bobby, tries to help Liz deal with her fear of her sister, but his own fear makes him impatient with Liz. The entire town is uneasy; there are arguments between parents and children, bar fights; people drink too much, people hallucinate, teenagers let themselves fall deep into the darkness of their own apocalyptic thoughts.

This stew of guilt and economic depression swirls into a muddy puddle in a March storm that begins as the novel opens, an unrelenting rain that continues for exactly one week every year. Langan immerses the reader in the grayness of the cold winter rain that feels as if the skies are weeping. That depression combined with the fear Susan inspires in everyone in town makes this an atmospheric, moody novel. As disaster approaches, the questions become: who will live? Who will die? And what will Susan do?

The Keeper is Langan’s first novel, and it bears some of the marks of a freshman effort: it is too long, and Langan occasionally lets the tension slack, with too much back story and too little action, even though everything ultimately circles back and comes together at the end. Langan has such a facility with language and mood, though, that it is easy to understand why The Keeper was nominated for a Stoker Award for best first novel in 2006. Langan’s biography states she is currently studying for a doctorate in Environmental Health Science / Toxicology, an interest that allowed her to make the disaster in The Keeper believable. Between that degree and the MFA in creative writing she already holds, she is a formidable talent. My personal library already holds her other two novels, The Missing and Audrey’s Door, and you can bet I’ll be tackling them sooner rather than later, especially given that they both won Stoker Awards. And I’m delighted to read that she has a new novel in the works. This is a writer you’ll want to know.

Originally published at http://www.fantasyliterature.com/reviews/horrible-monday-the-keeper-by-sarah-lan... ( )
  TerryWeyna | Mar 2, 2015 |
I'm really wondering what this was all about. The storyline was pretty boring, weird things were happening without reason (giant spider ... really) and I couldn't make heads or tails about anything. Than came the "explaining part" which wasn't any better and didn't help explaining much... I wouldn't recommanded it. ( )
  ct.bergeron | Oct 12, 2014 |
Bedford was a cursed, doomed and dying town. William Prentice leached the land of its resources and exploited the greed of its citizens for his paper mill. After his death, the town realizes only too late of the dark deeds he's done, but that the sulfur from the paper mill has poisoned everything around it. Before the dark times come, some families leave, others stay. Whether the latter made their choice consciously or against their will is up for speculation. Years later, Susan Marley is born. She at first is like any other child, pretty and nice, but slowly becomes more and more receptive to the darkness of the town's past. It quickly manifests itself to her, then consumes and possesses her. Terrible things then happen to her which only feeds the darkness even more, until she is beyond saving. As the life of the town begins to run out, it is up to her sister, Elizabeth, to unbury the past, recover her own repressed memories, and do what she can to save those who are still alive. The Keeper has more of the Silent Hill elements to it then its sequel, with plenty of gruesome details and an emotional intensity that is also very sad. I liked the characterization of Susan Marley. She is both a pitiable, but a truly evil and vengeful character that you should not cheer for. Other characters are not as strong and brave as the reader is expecting them to be, but then again not all humans are. It's very conflicting for the reader, as there is no "hero" in this story. Some may feel that the story is incomplete as they have no one to "root for" but then again, not every story has to have a happy ending. ( )
  asukamaxwell | Apr 19, 2014 |
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The darkness of this house has got the best of us,
There's a darkness in this town that's got us too
- "Independence Day," Bruce Springsteen, from The River, 1980
For Carole, Chris, Michael and Peter
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They knew Susan Marley.
She is always hungry, she is never satisfied.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 006087290X, Mass Market Paperback)

Some believe Bedford, Maine, is cursed. Its bloody past, endless rain, and the decay of its downtown portend a hopeless future. With the death of its paper mill, Bedford's unemployed residents soon find themselves with far too much time to dwell on thoughts of Susan Marley. Once the local beauty, she's now the local whore. Silently prowling the muddy streets, she watches eerily from the shadows, waiting for . . . something. And haunting the sleep of everyone in town with monstrous visions of violence and horror.

Those who are able will leave Bedford before the darkness fully ascends. But those who are trapped here—from Susan Marley's long-suffering mother and younger sister to her guilt-ridden, alcoholic ex-lover to the destitute and faithless with nowhere else to go—will soon know the fullest and most terrible meaning of nightmare.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:22 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Some believe Bedford, Maine is cursed. It's bloody past, endless rain, and the decay of its downtown portend a hopeless future. With the death of its paper mill, Bedford's unemployed residents soon find themselves with far too much time to dwell on thoughts of Susan Marley. Once the local beauty, she's now the local whore. Silently prowling the muddy streets, she watches eerily from the shadows, waiting for...something. And haunting the sleep of everyone in town with monstrous visions of violence and horror.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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