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The Keeper Paperback

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Headline Book Publishing
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0755333705
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755333707
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 23.2 x 2.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 422 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
This atmospheric and chilling horror novel features first-rate characterization and the development of a real sense of place. Langan sets her first novel in the small, depressed Maine town of Bedford -- and over the course of the novel, Bedford falls. Ghosts and monsters walk the streets.

Indeed, the sheeted dead really do squeak and gibber in the Bedford streets at points, along with other monsters. The monsters of Bedford, though, are the manifestations of all its buried secrets. They have not invaded from Outside.

Langan uses third-person narration to delve into the inner lives of several characters, and does so skillfully without neglecting the atmospheric description necessary to showing the physical and social disintegration of the town as a whole, as both place and imaginative gestalt. At points, she "cuts loose" with visceral, physical horrors, but these things never take over the narrative. This is not a gross-out.

As with so much horror, supernatural events arise from human failure. Child abuse and alcoholism are the chief sins explored here, along with the morally corrosive effects of keeping secrets on both the personal and civic level. Bedford has its own skeletons, literal and figurative, in its closet. The closing of its primary industry before the novel begins becomes, over the course of the novel, a judgment on the town's failings -- and then it becomes something more complex and affecting.

Langan's characters are nicely developed, and their fates, for the most part, evade boiler-plate horror conventions. Startling moments in which the supernatural bursts into the "real" world abound. Through it all, Langan builds a convincing supernatural world populated by flawed human beings. There's evil here, but also hard-won goodness, very faint, very human, absolutely necessary.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
She's been compared to both Stephen King and Peter Straub (and, for the record, I'd say she leans a little more toward the latter than the former), but if The Keeper proves anything it's that Sarah Langan has developed a voice all her own. With a poetic sensibility she creates a haunting atmosphere and chilling imagery without ever bogging down the narrative. In fact, though it may seem almost aimless, the plot comes together like a dark mosaic, piece by piece, until the whole is revealed.

The Keeper is the story of a small town rotting from the roots on up. Bedford, Maine, had once prospered, but since the closing of the paper mill, its one source of income and primary source of employment, the town is now dying. Some of the townspeople blame the economy, some blame the mill operators, but many, even the most rational of them, blame Susan Marley, an odd young woman turned town whore, witch and sin-eater. With Susan as its central mass, the disease eating Bedford metastasizes, spreading dreamlike through and into the minds and lives of the town residents.

I have, in the past few months, made a concerted effort to find horror writers who've published their debut in the last five years. Sarah Langan ended up at the top of my short list, especially due to her Bram Stoker Award wins for her second and third novels, The Missing and Audrey's Door. If these are even half as good as The Keeper, then I'd say I've discovered not only a talented new voice in horror fiction, but a new favourite author.
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By Jeffrey Swystun TOP 50 REVIEWER on Aug. 26 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
A confession upfront, I read The Keeper in preparation for its follow-up, The Missing whose plot appeals to me more. Having said that, this first effort by the author was entertaining and brings to mind Stephen King's New England. The damaged and mysterious Susan Marley holds sway over the town of Bedford, Maine during the day and in their dreams. This does set up a bit of suspense both in terms the origins of her situation and how this will impact the townies of Bedford. The characters are believable but not entirely worthy of our sympathy so this makes the whole book very dark. The ending comes up rather suddenly but rewards the reader who has been patient through an overly slow build. I look forward to The Missing and hopefully a more consistent book in tone and pace.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9fcf82f4) out of 5 stars 107 reviews
29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9feade70) out of 5 stars Impressive Debut with a (Nearly) Fatal Flaw Dec 1 2006
By Maria Alexander - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was very excited to read Langan's book, because female horror writers are special for a lot of reasons. The first chapter absolutely knocked it out of the park. She is great at building dread, and the idea of a town haunted by a woman is very original. While I prefer prose that's something akin to prose poetry, Langan's book has strong, solid writing that worked well for this bleak, frightening story.

The only problem was that about 3/4 into the book everything ground to a halt for me. As realistic as they were, the characters never felt very likable. So, when Very Bad Things started happening to them, I lost interest in the story. I suspect it was because the characters were already dead in many ways and therefore it felt over the top. I soldiered on because a friend of Langan's had loved the book so much that I wanted to give it a fair read. Ultimately I liked the ending and was glad I got there, but that was a difficult bridge to cross.

That said, I suspect future books by Langan will shine even more brightly. I'll definitely be staying tuned!
51 of 58 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9feadec4) out of 5 stars Sarah Langan is a Major New Talent Sept. 27 2006
By Thriller Lover - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I typically read over two-hundred novels a year, and THE KEEPER is one of the best written debuts I've read in 2006. This is a top-shelf effort.

The quality of the writing in this novel is simply superb. It's hard to believe that Langan is a first-time novelist. Her prose is both vivid and compelling. Langan has a real gift for characterization and all of the people in this book really came alive for me. In the end, I made an emotional investment in the story and characters of THE KEEPER, which is something that rarely happens with most books I read.

The high quality of Langan's writing compensates for the somewhat creaky plot. This is a relatively slow-paced novel, with a great deal of prose devoted to the inner conflicts of multiple characters. If you're looking for fast moving suspense story, you will probably be disappointed with this novel. There isn't a great deal of action in this novel until the final few scenes.

THE KEEPER is essentially a well crafted literary novel with supernatural overtones. It is more of a spooky read than a thrilling one. You either like this type of novel or you don't. I enjoyed it throughly, and I eagerly look foward to Langan's future books. If she learns to tighten her plotting a bit, she could become the next Peter Straub in my opinion.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9feae318) out of 5 stars Promising, but not fully realized. Sept. 17 2007
By frumiousb - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I'd actually more or less given up on horror novels as a genre. While there are a few contemporary horror writers that I enjoy, I have given up the steady diet of supermarket horror that I read as a teenager. However, I made an exception in this case and actually ordered the Langan book from Amazon. This is largely because a great many of those "few contemporary horror writers" who I still read published hugely glowing blurbs about The Keeper. Peter Straub credited her with combining a "genuinely poetic sensibility" and a "taste for horror's most bravura excesses". Ramsey Campbell praised the quality of the prose. With chops like these, it almost seemed as though I had to love the book.

Probably unsurprisingly, I didn't love it. I didn't hate it either. Honestly, if I *had* just picked it up at the supermarket somewhere in upstate NY then I probably would have actually been quite pleasantly surprised. Langan isn't at all a bad writer, and seems to have a dab hand at the kind of real little details that generally work very well in horror and supernatural fiction. Liz was often very likable, and I could easily visualize her in her surroundings.

The problem was that even though she got the verisimilitude right, Langan somehow didn't succeed in making me care about the characters. I suspect that she tried to draw the story too widely. I needed to care about the town as much as I cared about the main characters. And that never came together. She might have done better to make it a claustrophobic family story. I suspect that by narrowing the focus, Susan may have been more genuinely frightening. The wider scope on the whole town meant that Langan resorted to pretty typical horror tricks-- vicious dogs, giant spiders, yadda yadda. It kind of felt like pastiche, and the rest of the work didn't really deserve pastiche.

All this said, The Keeper is a first novel. And it probably even counts as a first novel with a fair degree of promise. There's enough in here for me to want to keep an eye on her work and see where she goes.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9feae300) out of 5 stars Scary,atmospheric story telling at its best Sept. 8 2006
By R. Morgan - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I picked up this book at a grocery story on a whim, not really knowing what to expect. I read praise by Peter Straub at the top of the cover and thought "Well, let's try it."

I was blown away! This novel is written very well and includes creepy and scary stuff that might make your sleep a little restless.

I loved it! Langan is a wonderful writer. Poetic,descriptive without being too Faulknerian, she is awesome.

I cannot wait for a follow-up.
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9feae7bc) out of 5 stars Dirty Old Town Oct. 14 2006
By S. Harris - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Back in Horror's heyday, the masters (Straub, King, et al.) would crank out 500 to 800 page apocalyptic tomes, usually set in some small town filled with secrets, that never seemed to end. At the end of these novels, everything would blow up. I was never a huge fan, not because I didn't like horror (I love it), but because for me, horror works best with a tighter, smaller focus, with an emphasis on atmosphere (I'm a Ramsey Campbell fan). Give me dread over explosions any day. Langan's Keeper is from the "tome" era. To its credit, at 380 pages, it is shorter, but around page 260 or so, I was horrified that I had a hundred pages more to go. A character I couldn't stand wasn't dead yet (squeeze harder Susan!), a giant spider had showed up out of nowhere, and it just kept raining. (Actually, I liked the steady use of rain as a mood establishing device. For some reason I was reminded of Stewart O'nan's masterpiece The Night Country. Must be that Jamie Lee Curtis time of year.) Another problem for me was that I never bought into the core cause of the horror, so to some extent, from early on, I felt I was on a long march.

On the other hand, Langan can write. She creates believable characters (I really liked Liz), though sometimes there were conversations that just went on and on without really adding momentum to the story. Langan also has, like King, a good eye for things contemporary. The teens in the Keeper are modern day versions of King's 70s kids. The music, the clothes, the talk, all seemed right to me. But hey, it's a first novel, so ignore the novel's glowing heavy weight blurbs and take it for what it is. The Keeper does have some effective moments, and to my mind is much closer to real horror than another heavily touted new writer, Cherie Priest. This may seem like an overly critical review, but in part this is due to the promise I see with this writer. She seems enthusiastic about the genre, and contemporary horror needs new blood. There's a new crop coming (Lebon, Keene, Link, Priest), and Langan, I suspect, after another novel or so, will be viewed as a major figure in that group.

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