On the Docket: Audrey’s Door by Sarah Langan
The Plot: Audrey Lucas moves to New York to change her life and forget the never ending string of tragedies she’s endured. When she finds an affordable apartment at The Breviary, she thinks that she might get a happy ending. Soon she’s plagued by nightmares and psychotic, suicidal obsessions. The Breviary has a plan for her… she just doesn’t know it yet.
First Impressions: I began this book last year and stopped two thirds of the way through. I couldn’t help it. I was truly scared for Audrey, who was a genuinely broken, tired woman. After reading Langan’s previous novel, The Keeper, which was brilliantly written but incredibly dark, I was beginning to worry that this poor girl would never have a moment of peace or happiness. Langan’s characters are so authentically pathetic and truly sad that it was heartbreaking to see them crumble into pieces. I didn’t want to see Audrey fail and wither away. So, I took a break from this sad, depressing tale.
I decided to complete the novel because, no pun intended, it kept haunting me. Every time I passed my bookshelf, there it was, just sitting there, waiting to be finished. Returning to the story took a little time, re-familiarizing myself with the plot and characters. The grotesque horror of this book can be quite daunting, but it continued to grow even darker. It takes time to wrap your head around such a depressing story, with incredibly downtrodden characters. Poor Audrey’s heart was broken time and time again, put through hell, then back again. Her relationship with her mother, and insanity it inspires, is reminiscent of Stephen King’s Carrie. To my absolute delight, though, Audrey’s heart is eventually united with its scattered parts. There is an incredibly touching scene in which this (literally and metaphorically– you’ll know what I mean when you read the book) is exactly what happens: her spirit and identity become whole and strong for the first time in her life.
However, if I had to isolate one problem with Langan’s work, it would be her excessive descriptions. Although her characters are raw to the bone, real and heartbreaking, her plot has a tendency to stretch longer than necessary. It certainly doesn’t detract from the overall reading experience, perhaps an extra hour of flipping through mini-chapters, but her wordiness can be distracting at times. The coherency of the puzzle Langan is trying to construct can become a little… soggy. Don’t let that detract you from reading Langan’s work, though. If you love horror, her traditional tales of ghosts and demons are up there with, if not better than, other masters of horror like Bentley Little.
Final Verdict: Gruesome, sad, and horrifying. Two very enthusiastic thumbs up. If you can handle blood, bones, and mucky sounds, then you’ll love this book.
Be warned: It is easy to be sucked head first into this tale of ghosts and dysfunctional families. If you have anything cooking, be sure to turn off the stove before beginning chapter one.