Tuesday 30 October 2018

Review - The Lingering by SJI Holliday

The LingeringThe Lingering by S.J.I. Holliday
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had high expectations for this book. Being a fan of Susi's work, particularly her darker writing, maybe I put too much pressure on this one. As always Susi's writing is exceptional, her use of words, her ability to create suspense and a darkness that draws you in, spinning webs of intrigue and always leaving you wanting - needing - to know more, which drives you on. Coupled with short chapters, told through different points of view, it makes for a fast read, with a story which sets out as a slow burner and then heats right up, running at full speed and you just don't want it to stop until you know everything.

The story follows a couple who join a commune to make a fresh start, although we soon realise there is something they are also trying to get away from, or cover up. There are many suggestions and many threads of plot to follow, and the story is told through two main characters, Ali and Angela.

But the telling for me is where I had trouble. I couldn't decide in the beginning if I didn't like Angela as a character, or whether it was the 1st person aspect coupled with her being a narrator. She told the reader everything, all the time, and I felt this detracted from the book. It stopped me being able to 'see' what was going on. It stopped me being able to experience it, or engage with the characters properly and feel an emotion about them. I was being told by this character who they were, and who the others were all the time. It also overshadowed the more spooky aspects of the novel (and there are plenty), which I felt should have had more reaction from the characters - particularly the ones experiencing them.

There was also a sense of chaos in this book, yet I couldn't decide if it was intentional, because the lead character Ali is in a state of chaos in her head. But the narration of this chaos sort of made it more messy - although maybe that was the intent. I felt the entire novel could have been slowed down and more time taken over it, more of a slow dripping effect - even written as a series.

All the threads were tied, but they were tied exposing everything, nothing was left hanging. In some respects not enough was left 'lingering'.

I enjoyed this book very much, there is a lot here to embrace and soak up, some chilling scenes, expertly written. Maybe I am being too critical, as I am an editor and writer myself, but my favourite of Susi's still remains Willow Walk.

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