Wednesday 15 August 2018

The Lingering by Susi Holliday

The Lingering
By Susi Holliday
Published by Orenda Books (Ebook - 15 September; Paperback - 15 November)

Publisher's description
Married couple Jack and Ali Gardiner move to a self-sufficient commune in the English Fens, desperate for fresh start. The local village is known for the witches who once resided there and Rosalind House, where the commune has been established, is a former psychiatric home, with a disturbing history.
When Jack and Ali arrive, a chain of unexpected and unexplained events is set off, and it becomes clear that they are not all that they seem. As the residents become twitchy, and the villagers suspicious, events from the past come back to haunt them, and someone is seeking retribution…

My verdict
Writer Susi Holliday combined with publisher Orenda Books is a winning formula for me. Susi is one of my favourite authors, and I love her writing, having watched it develop from her Banktoun Trilogy crime series through to last year's festive crime novel The Deaths of December and now The Lingering, a cleverly plotted ghostly thriller that left me tingling. This certainly proves her versatility as a writer, and I can't wait to see what's coming next.

I don't want to give away too much about The Lingering. For me, it was all about thrills, chills and surprises, and I wouldn't want to deprive anyone else of that experience. But I will say that it has an amazing sense of foreboding from the start and one particular 'gasp out loud' game-changing moment somewhere along the way before the end.

The characters are very real, from newcomers Jack and Ali to 'Fairy' Angela and Smeaton - a group of people who have made Rosalind House their home, a self-sufficient commune where they can escape from their previous, often-troubled lives. I found myself right inside their heads, whether chapters were written in the first or third person. Susi Holliday has created one of the most 'seemingly ordinary' evil protagonists I've come across for a while.

Rosalind House is a key component of the story, bringing the characters together and also the past and the present. This former psychiatric home has a disturbing history and is filled with secrets. When newcomer Ali experiences some strange happenings, it makes her (and made me, as the reader) wonder what horrors took place there, what evil lingers there and whether it is the house itself or the occupants, past or current, causing the darkness within its walls. The vivid descriptions made me feel like I was there too, experiencing some shocking moments - there are couple of scenes in particular that have remained in my head.

The Lingering is a dark, creepy story delving into the true nature of evil. Is it born, taught or guided? Nature or nurture? And can you ever escape from your past mistakes? Susi Holliday has created a brilliant combination of psychological thriller and ghostly mystery - a 'chiller thriller' or 'ghostly noir'.

Put this on your shopping list!

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