Friday, October 7, 2011

The Keeper / by Sarah Langan

There is something wrong with Susan Marley. The residents of the small town of Bedford, Maine cross the street when she approaches and blame her for all their problems; especially for the terrifying things that dominate their dreams. But it's not just Susan, the whole town is haunted thanks to its sinister past and dark secrets hidden from view. Many now believe there's a curse on Bedford. With rampant unemployment owing to the recent closure of the paper mill, generally rainy weather and a history of misfortune and tragedy, the town has always been a dismal place, now even more so and many aren't so sure Susan Marley isn't the reason. Once the local beauty adored for her fair complexion and perfect teeth, she's now little more than a vagrant and sometimes prostitute whose odd, nocturnal habits have aroused suspicion. Even members of her family like her younger sister Liz and her seminally depressed mother, no longer living under the same roof as Susan, are starting to believe the rumors. It's also been raining a lot more in Bedford lately--a lot more. So much so that residents have begun to fear that the nearby river may flood over and ravage the already plagued town. As the mutually encountered nightmares are only matched by the drenching rainfall, those that can escape while others can only feel the sense of an impending disaster.

Columbia graduate Sarah Langan won a Bram Stoker award for this 2006 novel full of secrets, suspense and horror. Her sequel, The Missing (FIC LANGAN), has done equally well. The Keeper is definitely a 'keeper' as it portrays the damaged and mysterious Susan Marley, a vampish creature who somehow holds sway over the town of Bedford during the day and inhabits their dreams at night, through the narration of the protagonist Liz Marley, Susan's younger sister. With the suspense set from both origins of her situation and the pending predicament with the unnatural occurrences (and threatening natural ones), readers are well-engaged within the first few pages. And while the characters aren't especially good enough or believable enough to grant the sympathy needed for a truly creepy tale, the ending is well-rewarding and adequately completes a good story. (FIC LANGAN)

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