About The Book
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.
The Lingering by S.J.I Holliday has been on my ohmyGodIwanttoreaditnow list ever since I saw the cover on Twitter months and months ago. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but this one completely pulled me in. I loved the starkness of it, the hint of menace and the gothic building indicating that there was something I should be fearful of but I didn’t yet know what. And then, my eyes were drawn to the roof of the house, I saw the two figures standing there and a shiver went down my spine – I HAD to read it!
Jack and Ali arrive at Rosalind House with all of their worldly possessions piled in the back of their car. They are joining a group of people who live by the rules outlined in The Book of Light written by commune leader Smeaton Dunsmore. Rosalind House encourages the members to ‘live in peace, harmony and freedom’, has weekly yoga sessions, its own gardens, no internet access and mobile phones are banned. Oh, and Rosalind House used to be a psychiatric hospital. No big deal. Honestly.
Written in multi-person narrative we view the goings on at Rosalind House through the eyes of Ali and commune member Angela. This device is used so well, it isn’t just a flashy narrative trick, it really helps to build a compelling plot and draws you in. Ali is prickly where Angela is soft and her childlike vulnerability contrasts with Ali’s accomplished togetherness creating a wonderful tension. These alternating viewpoints mean that Jack slowly appears before us, Angela spots that things between Ali and Jack appear to be strained whilst behind closed doors they do seem to be struggling with something in their marriage. There don’t seem to be any secrets, somebody always seems to be around to keep an eye on your behaviour.
The thing is, there is something not quite right at Rosalind House – why else would Angela be putting cameras in empty rooms and spying on the commune members? Ali can’t settle, there’s something uncomfortable about her and Jack’s bedroom and well, put it this way, I wouldn’t use their bathroom if you paid me. There are long, dark, quiet corridors, rooms that are empty, others that have been stuffed full of abandoned medical equipment (beds with restraints – eeek!) and then there is the wing that had a fire and is now too dangerous to enter. I can’t downplay how well the tension is ramped up throughout the opening act of the book and how the atmosphere became unbearable and almost uncomfortable.
This simmering sense of unease and malevolence just under the surface continues throughout the book building an inventive and clever plot that I was blindsided by. Nothing is quite as it seems in Rosalind House. Have Jack and Ali inadvertently joined a cult? Are they in danger? Is the house haunted? Well, I’m not going to tell you that, you’re going to have to read it for yourself. What I will tell you is that it is excellent and not really what I expected to read. I also have no idea what genre to put it into. Supernatural? Thriller? Psychological thriller? Gothic? All of the above? Who knows. What I do know is that I read this book in one sitting. It is unputdownable and highly recommended.
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 has dabbled in festive crime with the critically acclaimed The Deaths of December. Her latest psychological thriller is modern gothic with more than a hint of the supernatural, which she loved writing due to her fascination and fear of ghosts. She is proud to be one of The Slice Girls has been described by David Mark as ‘Dark as a smoker’s lung.’ She divides her time between Edinburgh and London and you will find her at crime-fiction events in the UK and abroad.
My thanks to Orenda Books and Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the invitation to join the Blog Tour and for a copy of the book in return for an honest review. The Lingering is out now in ebook and in paperback.