There’s no better setting for a creepy, ghostly thriller than a former psychiatric home in the English Fens. Add to that the fact that the nearby village is steeped in the history of the witches that were said to have lived there, and you have the perfect backdrop for an atmospheric, dark, chilling read.
The Lingering has every single one of those elements, and Susi Holliday does an excellent job balancing them all so that they harmonise and complement each other perfectly. The house itself is almost another character: almost lifelike, imposing, menacing, unwilling to let go of the secrets that it’s been keeping for so long.
Ali and Jack Gardiner arrive at Rosalind House to escape everyday life and join a spiritual commune led by a man known only as ‘Smeaton’. It’s immediately apparent that Ali and Jack are there to get away from more than just everyday pressure. They don’t find it easy to adapt to the drastic change in environment and Ali seems to be extremely on edge, when she should be feeling quite the opposite – more relaxed and ready to unwind now that she’s away from the stress of the outside world.
One of the commune’s inhabitants, Angela (fondly called ‘Fairy’ Angela) is immediately drawn to the new residents and tries to strike up a friendship with Ali, to no avail, after which she starts to become suspicious as to why they’re actually there. She tries to find out more information but this leads her to become even more confused as to what their true intentions might be. With her theories of the paranormal and what attracts psychic activity, Angela does tend to come across as a bit quirky, but the other residents of the commune are used to her and generally indulge her.
A well-paced build-up of tension combines with a clever psychological backstory to make this an edge-of-your-seat thrill of a read. Told from different perspectives, and interspersed with diary entries from a doctor who had been sent undercover to the institution when it was still a working asylum in the 1950’s, to look into suspicious practices there, you really get to see how perception can be tweaked and manipulated depending on who’s telling a story. In fact I’d love the author to write a book about Dr Henry Baldock and what happens to him and the patients of the original Rosalind House. Maybe this is in the pipeline, and maybe this is why we never truly find out what happens to him (hint, hint, Susi Holliday)!!
I loved this – although probably shouldn’t have read it late at night! 4 big glittery stars from me!
Thank you to the TBC Reviewer Request Group on FB for my review copy of this book!