Sarah Langan’s The Keeper made me nervous, jumpy, and about as happy as can be. I read it during a winter several years ago, maybe 2007-08—one here in southern Ohio that had lots of nights with temperatures in the teens and below, and a couple of good snowstorms. I spent a lot of time in the garage after shoveling the driveways and our porch and the neighbors’ walkways and all. Those who know me well will tell you that I love cold weather, and I’ve never spent more time in it than I did (with icicles in my beard, literally) than I did that winter . . . because I loved this book.
After working outside in the dark and cold, I read it in the garage in the light of a small utility bulb while smoking cigars and drinking Guinness. It took me only a couple of nights. The garage was set back from the house, and it was very dark outside. I jumped. I flinched. I listened carefully to noises outside. That’s what the book did to me. And I loved every second, every line, of it. Langan is a master of atmosphere and imagery and tension. The central character, Susan Marley, is terrifying in both a realistic and a supernatural way. This book crawls along sometimes in such a good, detailed, and dreadful way, and then the terror escalates later on at a breakneck pace. I’ve never been so happy to be unnerved as I was on those dark, snowstormy nights while I read this book half-drunk in a cold garage.