"The thing about madness was, it just took so damn much energy, and it was so thoroughly tedious in the meantime."
Master woodworker Rae Newborn knows madness intimately, with every bone, every pore, every particle of her being. At 52, with three suicide attempts, extended hospitalizations, the death of her husband and daughter, and a vicious attack behind her, Rae has come to Folly Island, far out in the Straits of Juan de Fuca, to rebuild her life by building a house:
"She would pull herself together, she would go and rebuild Desmond's house, she would lift his walls and dwell within them quietly all the rest of her days. Everything that House was lay there waiting for her to take it up: House as shelter, House as permanence, House as a continuation and a legacy, comfort and challenge, safety and beauty, symbol and reality joined as one."
Bequeathed to Rae by Desmond Newborn, a great-uncle she never met, Folly Island is lovely indeed. But when Rae discovers Desmond's journal in the 70-year-old ruins of his house, she learns that Desmond had his own internal horrors to confront on the island. As she labors in solitude, her prickly nature deterring all but the most determined of her would-be neighbors, it's not just her well-being that's at stake. Rae must prove herself sane if she is to have any contact with her beloved granddaughter Petra. So when the "skin-crawling feeling of being watched" doesn't fade, she does her best to ignore it. But does paranoia have its roots in reality? And is Rae doomed to repeat her ancestor's tragic end?
So effectively does King weave together past and present--the shrouded history of Desmond's life and death on Folly, and the tense, dusty, exhilaratingly panicky account of Rae's wrestling with old demons and new timber--that the future seems less important than the author might have wished. In other words, the eventual unmasking of Rae's watcher pales in comparison to the gradual revelation of Rae herself within King's haunted and haunting narrative. But with such a strong character and such moodily lovely prose, readers shouldn't miss the denouement-driven trappings of standard suspense. --Kelly Flynn - (This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.)
Laurie R. King - Bantam - 2002
"Outside, even through the shut window pane, the world looked cold. Down in the street little eddies of wind were whirling dust and torn paper into spirals, and though the sun was shining and the sky a harsh blue, there seemed to be no color in anything except the posters that were plastered everywhere."
The year is 1984; the scene is London, largest population center of Airstrip One.
Airstrip One is part of the vast political entity Oceania, which is eternally at war with one of two other vast entities, Eurasia and Eastasia. At any moment, depending upon current alignments, all existing records show either that Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia and allied with Eastasia, or that it has always been at war with Eastasia and allied with Eurasia. Winston Smith knows this, because his work at the Ministry of Truth involves the constant "correction" of such records. "'Who controls the past,' ran the Party slogan, 'controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.'"
In a grim city and a terrifying country, where Big Brother is always Watching You and the Thought Police can practically read your mind, Winston is a man in grave danger for the simple reason that his memory still functions. He knows the Party's official image of the world is a fluid fiction. He knows the Party controls the people by feeding them lies and narrowing their imaginations through a process of bewilderment and brutalization that alienates each individual from his fellows and deprives him of every liberating human pursuit from reasoned inquiry to sexual passion. Drawn into a forbidden love affair, Winston finds the courage to join a secret revolutionary organization called The Brotherhood, dedicated to the destruction of the Party. Together with his beloved Julia, he hazards his life in a deadly match against the powers that be.
Newspeak, doublethink, thoughtcrime--in 1984, George Orwell created a whole vocabulary of words concerning totalitarian control that have since passed into our common vocabulary. More importantly, he has portrayed a chillingly credible dystopia. In our deeply anxious world, the seeds of unthinking conformity are everywhere in evidence; and Big Brother is always looking for his chance. --Daniel Hintzsche --(This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title)
George Orwell - London: Secker & Warburg - 1949
"Some houses hide you from the terrors of the night. Some houses invite them in."
First he took possession of the house...then the house took possession of him. For Austin Fletcher, any place was paradise after Vietnam. Even the ancient house in the frozen Maine wilderness left to him by his slain buddy, Maynard Whittier. Even with the loneliness and the cold. But this was a different kind of cold. It was worse than the cold of winter. It was even worse than the cold of death. It was the soul-chilling cold of an evil unimaginable, awakening after centuries to welcome him and make it's terrible claim.
Herman Raucher - Berkley Books - 1980
Okay I'll start this off by recommending any book by Stephen King. I don't know what it is about his writing, but for me it seems like he can take any off-the-wall scenerio and make it seem like it CAN happen in real life. From the monster in "IT" to the vampires in "Salem's Lot" to the mind control and zombies in "Cell" he can make them real for me.
There are a few of his books (The Drawing of The Three series comes to mind) that I don't really care for, but overall I can count on a Stephen King book to pull me in and make the real world disappear for a while. Kinda like the "Calgon - Take Me Away" theory. :D