The Lingering by SJI Holliday

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 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.

My thoughts on The Lingering…

I first started The Lingering back in October 2020, thinking it would be a good spooky, seasonal, read. I made it about a third of the way through before giving up. Roll on December 2021 and a need to start the year with fresh books led me back to The Lingering so it could be crossed of my TBR (I do struggle with not finishing books, even those that have sat on the shelf half-read for more than a year – there is always an underlying guilt). This time, I made it through but I do have to ask myself is this is the year I let my guilt go because there was a reason I put it down the first time, and revisiting it didn’t help me get back on track with a book that I found confusing and convoluted.

I should probably have guessed this would be the case based on the description – which includes the words mystery, thriller, and ghost story. While not impossible to write a book that contains all three, it is hard – I think – to get the balance right. And it definitely wasn’t right here. The ghost story was consistent all the way through but the other elements popped up and down and didn’t seem to know how to fit nicely with the idea of a ghost child leaving wet footprints around an old asylum. As a reader, I couldn’t settle.

I also couldn’t get away with any of the main characters. Central to them all was Ali, who was all over the place, as was her husband Jack. I couldn’t figure them out, or why they had come to the commune to start over. There were hints dropped (loudly enough I figured out what was going on fairly early) and some leaps that I was expected to make that were just a bit too far for me. By the time the end came, I was thoroughly confused and thoroughly fed up. I felt I had been taken for a bit of a ride.

Reading back on my review, I realise I sound a bit grumpy. But that’s how I feel. This really wasn’t the book for me, and I would struggle to recommend it. Sorry!

Emma

3/5 stars

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