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Folly Paperback – May 28, 2002
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An acclaimed master of suspense creates a heroine you will never forget in this superbly chilling novel of a woman who begins a desperate undertaking that may transform her life--or end it.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOUR WORST FEARS ARENâT ALL IN YOUR MIND?
Rae Newborn is a woman on the edge: on the edge of sanity, on the edge of tragedy, and now on the edge of the world. She has moved to an island at the far reaches of the continent to restore the house of an equally haunted figure, her mysterious great-uncle; but as her life begins to rebuild itself along with the house, his story starts to wrap around hers. Powerful forces are stirring, but Rae cannot see where her reality leaves off and his fate begins.
Fifty-two years old, Rae must battle the feelings that have long tormented her--panic, melancholy, and a skin-crawling sense of watchers behind the trees. Before she came here, she believed that most of the things she feared existed only in her mind. And who can say, as disturbing incidents multiply, if any of the watchers on Folly Island might be real? Is Rae paranoid, as her family and the police believe, or is the threat real? Is the island alive with promise--or with dangers?
With Folly, award-winning author LAURIE R. KING once again powerfully redefines psychological suspense on a sophisticated and harrowing new level, and proves why legions of readers and reviewers have named her a master of the genre.
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This is a fairly long book, and one that won't appeal to everyone. Many pages are devoted to Rae building a house on her island, some people would find that tedious, I found it very interesting (If the book had been about Rae making fishing lures, or rebuilding a car, that would have been tedious to me). Rae is an artist who works with wood, and I found the descriptions of her work beautiful.
Rae has spent many years struggling with mental illness (horrific depression). While she has known happiness, she's known tragedy even more intimately. She gets the idea to rebuild her great-uncle's house that burned down seven decades before, and it begins to give her life new purpose. Because of her mental illness, she is unsure of herself when she sees or hears things (like a footprint that shouldn't be there or sounds that she's not really sure she heard).
The "mystery" element of the book is just a small part of the story, it's more about Rae finding the will to live again. But in the last few chapters of the book, it does get pretty pulse pounding.
Interspersed in the chapters are journal entries from Desmond, Rae's great-uncle and a WWI veteran with PTSD. The horrors of war haven't seemed to change much in the last 100 years. Rae feels a strong connection to Desmond, though she never met him, and the reasons why are made clear in the final chapter.
In both books, King's prose is breathtaking. In Touchstone, I thought she made the novel dull in the middle with too much detail. In this novel, she has a lot of exacting detail on house construction and the island environment, but it is necessary to the plot and subplots. In this book, the details do not make the reading dull, they enhance the novel.
I commented on the Touchstone book: "I think she spent way too much time on character and scene details and not enough .. developing the reason for the ... threat." The opposite is mostly true in this book. The character comes to life with profound insight but not so much as to bore the reader. The description of the island (Folly) , done with enough detail so that one can visualize it, but not so much that you get bored.
Folly is about a woman artist recovering from a very serious mental breakdown and grieving on an island once owned by her uncle. She decides to reconstruct the house he built (burned in a fire). While doing so she finds information on his last days. In addition she has to deal with ghosts, who may or may not be real. She has the challenges of someone who has had breakdowns and her relationships with her family and returning to the "real" world.
King proves that she has an excellent grasp of psychology particularly mental issues. Either she has experienced some mental challenges or is very close to someone who has. She goes beyond the textbook to the reality of it. She understands the sometimes delicate line between reality and imagination. She is able to develop the relationships the heroine has with her daughter, granddaughter and residents of the mainland with a stron, but without overdoing it.
In addition her grasp of house construction and wood workers is profound. She has demonstrated in this book and in a few of the Russell and Martinelle books that she is very acquainted with artists, their temperment and their craft.
The mystery is actually a mystery within a mystery. It is haunting and handled with a very delicate touch. I felt the presence of "the Watchers" all too well. My only criticism is that she did not develop the pyschological reasons for the attack at the end. I can not say more without spoiling the plot. I will only say that I would have preferred a little more development of this character.
I am a Laurie King Fan. I've read all the books in her two series and this is my first encounter with one of her stand-alones . I found the book engrossing and could hardly put it down until the last chapters. The way the book ended left me cold! It was as though the author didn't think the storyline through before she began writing and then couldn't come up with an ending that lived up to the wonderful character development and the beautiful narrative. The "who," the "why," and the "how" of the ending seemed to me more in line with a novice writer rather than someone of King's stature. Neverhteless, my enjoyment of the bulk of this book made up for the final let-down. I wish there were a 3 1/2 star rating since that would most accurately describe where I think this book belongs.