Book Review: The Keening
By: A. LaFaye
Published By: Milkweed Editions
Release Date: April 2010
Buy it at Amazon
Suitable for Ages 12 and up
Source: Galley provided by publisher via NetGalley
The Keening by A. LaFaye is a rich mixture of historical fiction and paranormal. LaFaye takes readers into a world of secrets, sickness, and the unexplained. Lyza is a young girl in 1918 when she watches the fever plague the people of her town. After nearly dying from the disease herself she is sensitive to the burden the sickness places on those around her. On top of watching her world die, Lyza must also deal with being the talk of the town. Her father is crazy and her mother is even crazier for loving a man with so many issues. Can Lyza find her place amongst all the gossip and fevers?
Lyza is thrust into a world she never knew existed on the morning that her mother succumbs to the fever. She must protect her father from being sent away to a special place for the mentally ill. She knows her father is not like other fathers, but she refuses to believe that what plagues him is a mental illness. What could be causing her Pater to talk so intently to the statues he carves? And can Lyza save him before it truly is too late and she loses the only parent she has left?
Maine provides the perfect haunting backdrop to LaFaye's tale. The dreary gray setting fits perfectly into the creepy world that she weaves. LaFaye also shows some serious writing chops with the character of Lyza. She does a phenomenal job of bringing this character to life. Lyza's pain and stress seeped through the print and invaded my body. I couldn't rest until I knew the fate of her family. LaFaye also does a beautiful job of bringing her readers into the influenza epidemic. She has obviously done a vast amount of research to make her story come alive.
I have to admit that this book did take me awhile to get into, but I promise it is well worth the wait. There are twists and turns that I never saw coming which kept me eagerly devouring every word. The Keening is sure to be a hit with fans of historical fiction.
One Last Gripe: I was not a big fan of Lyza's dreams in the boat. I often found those to distract me from the flow of the plot. They also were confusing at times.
My Favorite Thing About This Book: The truth about what's going on with Pater
First Sentence: As a child who waded in the head-high grass of our cliffside home, I'd harbored a peculiar fondness for funeral marches - the sight of all those people in one long line, each face holding a memory.
Favorite Character: Lyza
Least Favorite Characters: Lyza's Grandmothers
Born into a family with artistry in their fingers and eccentricity in their history, Lyza laments that her only talent is carving letters into wood. That is, until her life is turned upside down when her mother succumbs to influenza during the pandemic of 1918, which is devastating their small coastal town in Maine. With her mother gone, it falls to Lyza to protect her unconventional father who runs the risk of being committed after he claims he's waiting for the return of his dead wife. Lyza must rely on her courage, and an undiscovered talent, to save her father and find her own path.