My God! What a creepily compelling read! Right up my twisted reading path and a book I couldn’t wait to read once the positive feedback reviews started flowing in like a raging torrent.
Jack and Ali Gardiner, he a former police officer and her a nurse, decide to give up their former lives to move to a self sufficient commune set up by an odd but charismatic character called Smeaton Dunsmore The commune is housed in a creepy old asylum, Rosalind House in the English fens. Parts of it are still derelict. *see footnote
It’s clear from the start that Jack and Ali have problems in their relationship and a somewhat troublesome past and disturbing secrets. The tension between them cackles off the page. Traumatic events from their past is alluded to. Jack has had a breakdown that was work related.
Usual admittance criteria to the commune have been somewhat relaxed in the case of the newcomers and the money they are donating into it looks to be a key element.
The other commune members are introduced to them slowly and one in particular, Angela, an investigator of paranormal activity takes a particular unhealthy interest in them both, wanting Ali to be her new best friend but also installing a secret camera and microphone in their room to monitor the paranormal activity that’s supposed to be particularly active in their allocated room. Angela also snoops through their personal items and finds news articles that may relate to Jack’s previous role in the police force.
Jack and Ali’s arrival seems to be the catalyst that leads to a series of frightening events.
There’s a disquieting sense of unease present throughout this entire book and I just loved the Gothic feel to it, especially with the old building and the background of witches that were part of the history and folklore of the local village where the inhabitants seem to be decidedly odd to put it mildly. They’re also resentful and suspicious about the commune and its members.
There are numerous stories and rumours about the old asylum itself and the mysterious happenings there and also documented cases of the mistreatment of inmates.
Included in the narrative are the old reports written by a doctor in the 1950’s who was sent in secretly to look into the claims of inmate abuse.
In the present day Smeaton Dunsmore appears to enjoy exerting his control over the commune members, known collectively as The Family albeit in a passive aggressive manner. The Book of Light authored by him has become their rule book and ethos and he is treated almost like a guru. They’re advised to cut off regular contact with family members and not to use mobile phones, the internet, TV and radio.
There are daily activities starting at 6:30 am with morning singing and a ritual of hand touching to Embrace The Light.
The Family members each have their own work within the commune according to their individual skills and they work together towards keeping the commune self sustaining.
Extract from The Book Of Light
‘Embrace the light’ We all have one thing in common: the desire to live in peace, harmony and freedom –away from wrongdoers and those who take pleasure in the discomfort of others. We have one key aim: for only goodness to exist. By embracing goodness, we help it to grow. Help it to grow here amongst us. All you need to do is embrace it. ‘Join hands, join minds, live as one’ The joining of hands has long been a method of ensuring community engagement, without making anyone feel that any boundaries have been crossed.
OK that’s the living and then there’s the undead who appear to haunt the place by appearing at intervals scaring the wits out of me and the characters in the novel!
The old asylum building appears to be housing some very disgruntled spririts who don’t seem to be enjoying much in the way of eternal rest.
I’m so glad I don’t have a bathtub any more because I wouldn’t be going anywhere near it after reading this. *Scream*
I could go on and on about this book. There is much to see and much to leave to the imagination. Mine worked overtime and I left the bedside light on while reading it.
Creepy as hell. The Lingering is one to read during the winter months when the dark nights are lengthy and the mists are swirling around your house bringing God knows what with them.
I loved being scared witless by this sinister and atmospheric read.
*Footnote. I used to live not far from and old disused asylum up in N Wales. Denbigh asylum, much loved by those people who love exploring in and taking photos of old asylums. My late mother in law had worked as a nurse there in her younger days and told us tales of horror about some of the treatments and practices of the time. In my mind’s eye while reading this were photos of Denbigh asylum