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Customer Review

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PTSD wrought in fiction makes for a riveting read, May 5, 2009
This review is from: Castle: A Novel (Hardcover)
I'm struggling as to how, exactly, to describe this book. I can give you the basic plot: a man originally from small town, Upstate New York returns to where he grew up, many years after he'd left. Something terrible happened in his family while they lived there, but he's been away so long not many people remember him. He purchases a large tract of land in the country, including an older house that's falling into disrepair. The land is also partially forested with a strange, bowl-shaped forest, in the middle of which is a large rock.

The man is, how do I put this, antisocial. Perhaps pathologically so, as he's unrepentant. He considers himself superior to everyone he meets, and doesn't have a firm grasp on his temper or his tendency toward righteous indignation, even when no offense was intended. He fixes up the house on his own and moves in. When he starts exploring the forest he has strange memories that seem part flashback, part imagination. And the reader doesn't know which until much later in the book.

Telling more would be spilling the beans. And there will be no bean spilling here.

So, how did I feel about the experience of reading this book? I felt riveted. I had to know the secrets, why the main character felt such a visceral reaction to the forest, who or what was responsible for the strange things that started happening to him. What happened in his early life to make him the way he was.

There's a twist at the 3/4 point. It ties in where he'd been for many years of his absence, and how his childhood lead him to be the man he is. The switch is so sudden I didn't expect it. In fact, Lennon turns on the proverbial dime.

To those who may end up reading it, don't let it throw you too much. Keep reading. It'll all make sense by the end. A lot of readers won't like this technique. It's disruptive to the flow of what's a very exciting scene. I think it's done deftly, but not everyone will. This will be a sticking point with many, because from this point on things change rapidly and dramatically.

This is a strange novel. It reminds me of Jennifer Egan's The Keep, which is one of those love it or hate it books. I personally loved it. It won't satisfy people who like their loose ends all conveniently tied up, but those who love the dark, gothic writing of Ian McEwan may appreciate this book. It's different, but in many ways similar to his writing. It also has a Barbara Vine quality because it delves into the main character's extremely complex, partly amnesiac, perhaps psychotic mind.

It's an impressive read, but it won't be to everyone's taste. But for me? It was worth giving up sleep.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 4, 2011 2:16:39 PM PDT
Reader--Well, I hope the book is as wonderful as your review. Your review was so compelling I had to buy it NOW!

Posted on Apr 2, 2012 1:50:23 PM PDT
A. Thell says:
Way to put a spoiler in the very first word of the title of your review, Turdmonger.
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Location: Chicago, IL USA

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