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… At once an unnerving locked-room mystery, a chilling thriller and a dark and superbly wrought ghost story, The Lingering is an exceptionally plotted, terrifying and tantalisingly twisted novel by one of the most exciting authors in the genre.
Today as part of the month long celebration of Orenda Books I’m resharing my review of The Lingering.
Well in keeping with the title, this book lingered in my mind long after I finished reading the last page. Eerie and unsettling throughout, it’s a masterful creation, part thriller and part gothic drama.
Jack and Ali have come to Rosalind House to start again, but the past is leaking through time into the present and setting off a disturbing series of events.
I could list a whole bunch of reasons I loved this book, but for me my favourite element is the tension that builds up like unstoppable force by the end. So much so, that your almost too scared to turn the page, in case your faced even more terrifying events. Where the skill of the writer comes in, is in taking you to the edge of what’s bearable, without terrifying you so much you can’t read on. I was sat firmly with the lamp on, with someone in the house at all times and I loved every second. Atmosphere is paramount in these types of books and S J I Holliday gives it to us with a lot of va- va -voom.
Another thing I loved about the Lingering is the combination of gothic drama/thriller and ghostly mystery. The story is incredibly creepy and chilled me to the bone. By combining three different genres, you get a story that grabs you and holds you in its embrace in more than one way. Your thrilled by the modern elements of the psychological thriller, the twists and turns, obsession and the mind games. Then scared by the ghostly happens and fascinated by the historical drama that seeps from the past into the present. For me it was the perfect combination and made a story tantalising and addictive in equal measure.
I’ve always believed that houses retain the memories of those that lived there in the fabric of the building and for me that made Rosalind House as much a character in this book as Jack and Ali. The writing creates a palpable sense of lingering fear that inhabits the walls and surrounding grounds, with the entry of a new couple setting off a terrifying chain of events. I loved the brooding nature of the story, created in part by setting it in an old house, in parts neglected and forever haunted. As for the human characters they fit in perfectly, everyone one of them in something hidden in their pasts, but it’s hard to know if they are deadly secrets or if the malign influence of the house that is altering their personalities as we read.
Reminder to self. If giving up life in an increasingly chaotic and scary world to check into a commune, ensure it’s not one dreamed up by the mind of one SJI Holliday!
Seriously this is a top class chilling read.
About the author
S.J.I. (Susi) Holliday is a pharmaceutical statistician by day and a crime and horror fan by night. Her short stories have been published in many places and she was shortlisted for the inaugural CWA Margery Allingham prize with her story ‘Home from Home’, which was published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine in spring 2017. She is the bestselling author of the creepy and claustrophobic Banktoun trilogy (Black Wood, Willow Walk and The Damselfly) featuring the much loved Sergeant Davie Gray, and the festive serial killer thriller The Deaths of December. Her latest psychological thriller is modern gothic with more than a hint of the supernatural, inspired by her fascination and fear of ghosts.
This review was written from an ARC provided by Orenda Books. The views on this blog post are my own .