"In the late winter of 2006, I returned to my home town and bought 612 acres of land on the far western edge of the county." So begins, innocently enough, J. Robert Lennon's gripping and brilliant new novel. Awkward, guarded, and more than a little adamant about his need for privacy, Eric Loesch sets about renovating a rundown old house in the small, upstate New York town where he spent his childhood. When he inspects the title to the property, however, he discovers that there is a plot of dense forest smack in the middle of his land that he does not own. What's more, the name of the person it belongs to is blacked out....
The answer to what-and who-might lie at the heart of Loesch's property stands at the center of this daring and riveting novel from an author whose writing, according to Ann Patchett, "has enough electricity to light up the country."
©2010 J. Robert Lennon (P)2010 Iambik Audio Inc.
"[Lennon] methodically baits readers with mystery and the macabre until the hook is set and then yanks it back with a vengeance.... Here, the surprising denouement packs a powerful and brutal punch." (Publishers Weekly)
"Clever and insightful, [Castle] compels the reader to solve a series of riddles that reveal the emotional rationale underpinning our most despicable behavior." (Dallas Morning News)
"This tale of alienation and unease, of a war both internal and external, serves as one of the best arguments I've read for the potency of neo-Gothic literature in the twenty-first century. Lennon has mobilized all of elements of the classic horror tale-including the descent of a character into dark places-to speak to modern issues. Castle proves that in skillful hands these elements retain their power, relevance, and surprising ability to humanize even in our jaded and surreal times." (Jeff Vandermeer for the Barnes & Noble Review)
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"powerful and more than a little provocative"
Having not read other J Robert Lennon stories, I did a quick wiki search after listening to 'castle'.
What could initially be thought of as a disjointed beginning, does follow our hero 's recovering memories. The observations of responses and reactions of others in his home town become understood to be less of a delusional nature and much more understandable as the concluding chapters unfold.
The story itself is powerful. There is an echo of the secret Super Soldier Program and the dissociative process. In 'castle' it is the programing delivered by an unusual psychologist. An already troubled family is deeply affected.
The history emerges as the hero sets out to restore an old house on acres and explore his land.
The development of the novel itself speaks as it progresses and carries the listener, in this case, with it. By no means is 'castle' a superficially heavy moralizing tale, yet it nudges the reader to reconsider assumptions.
"Disappoints after good start, Child/Animal Abuse"
I wanted to review this book after listening to it because I hated it more than anything else I actually listened to. As is so often the case, it isn't that everything about this book is so bad that infuriates the reader. It is that it started in such a promising manner then failed to deliver. I loved the idea of the book. It is narrated in the first person by a man named Eric Loesch who doesn't tell you much about himself. He has recently returned to his hometown and purchased 612 acres of land with a house on it. While looking at the paperwork he discovered that there is a part of this property - right in the dense woods in the middle that he does not own and the name of the person who does own it is blacked out and no one wants to tell him who it is. So it’s no spoiler to mention there will be a castle in that patch of woods.
Loesch has these bizarre encounters with the locals as he sets out to renovate his new home. He seems paranoid especially about his privacy and it is hard to tell from his narration whether people act strangely towards him or if there is something wrong with him. But you want to know more about him but you can't get credible info from his first person narration. There is an interesting aspect of trying to discover from tidbits and slips who our narrator really is. We spend a huge amount of time with Loesch as he sands floors, stops at the hardware store, gets his furnace repaired etc. And for some reason this actually seems interesting, and builds up all this suspense. He finds creepy psych books in his cellar and hears noises at night and it looks like things are going to be really interesting. He finds out something about the owner of the property which is scary and we have this great buildup for this psychological thriller.
So then what goes wrong you ask? This is where it gets difficult to explain without any real spoilers, because the problem is the plot. First, we realize that we the readers have been misled by this setup and Loesch’s involvement in things isn't what we were led to believe. Then we go through a very long and bizarre series of flashbacks to his childhood. His childhood is awful, full of abuse, which I suppose would have been more upsetting if Loesch hadn't been such an unlikable character. In addition to child abuse we get animal torture and I really was bothered by those scenes.
At this point I had invested so much time I had to see where all this was going and this was the worst blow of all. The author just abandons all this to use later events in Loesch’s life to make political statements. What a disappointment! I deleted it immediately and will read nothing further by this author.
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