Novel set in London (“..there’s always a chance of reconciliation…”)
Novel set in Cambridgeshire (the author is the Queen of creepy storytelling)
17th September 2018
The Lingering by SJI Holliday, novel set in Cambridgeshire.
Rosalind House has a chequered history. For many years it was an asylum and by the 1950s it had become a psychiatric unit. Today, it houses a community of disparate people, founded in 1995 by Smeaton Dunsmore, who is still in charge; the individuals are encouraged to ‘Embrace the LIght’. But the dark walls have many a gruesome tale to tell, from the 16th Century when women were consigned to brutal deaths as witches, through to the 19th and 20th Centuries when patients, who had the misfortune to find themselves incarcerated, were subject to terrible practises. Some of the more horrific treatment methods were recorded in the 1950s by observer Dr Henry Baldock and excerpts from his diary appear in the book, underlining some of the more horrible and entrenched things that went on.
One of the residents, Angela, is a woman with otherworldly gifts, She has a heightened sense of smell and can determine so many things through her extra sensory perception. She is of course perceived as an odd character who invests a great deal of time searching for phenomena, including ghosts. I am not a keen reader of ghostly stories but the author manages Angela’s quest to seek out the other-worldly in a most natural and engaging way. Angela uses her gut feelings to almost “read” situations, and intuition is something which all humans possess to a greater or lesser extent, and therefore Angela’s heightened sensory feelings are relatable.
The latest incomers are Ali and Jack, a nurse and policeman respectively. They have their reasons for joining the community and these begin to become more evident as the novel unfolds. Ali herself is on edge and she too has a sense of unfinished business in the house, the hairs sometimes stand up on the back of her neck. She treads the fine line between what is real and what she imagines… or does she? Right down to a trail of small, wet footprints….Ali and Jack’s presence upsets the finely honed balance in the house, and therefore they attract more scrutiny from some of the other people living there. It is clear that things are not going to end well.
SJI Holliday is the Queen of creepy storytelling and keeps the pathos going throughout the novel.
A quick mention for the cover – it reflects so well the content.
Setting from a TripFiction point of view isn’t particularly strong in this book, though the damp, forested environment certainly adds atmosphere.
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