The Lingering by SJI Holliday | Book Review | (@SJIHolliday @OrendaBooks) #TheLingering

Published by Orenda Books

Available in ebook (27 September 2018) and paperback (15 November 2018)

256 pages

Source: Review copy from publisher

My thanks to Anne Cater for the place on the tour and to Karen of Orenda for the review copy of The Lingering.


|   About the Book   |


Married couple Jack and Ali Gardiner move to a self-sufficient commune in the English Fens, desperate for fresh start. The local village is known for the witches who once resided there and Rosalind House, where the commune has been established, is a former psychiatric home, with a disturbing history.

When Jack and Ali arrive, a chain of unexpected and unexplained events is set off, and it becomes clear that they are not all that they seem. As the residents become twitchy, and the villagers suspicious, events from the past come back to haunt them, and someone is seeking retribution…

At once an unnerving locked-room mystery, a chilling thriller and a dark and superbly wrought ghost story, The Lingering is an exceptionally plotted, terrifying and tantalisingly twisted novel by one of the most exciting authors in the genre.


|   My Thoughts   |


Ali, a former psychiatric nurse and Jack a policeman, sell their possessions and for reasons of which the reader is initially unaware, move to Rosalind House.  It is clear that they are running away from someone or something, but why?

Rosalind House is a former hospital/asylum built in 1845 and located in the Fens.  A dilapidated building, there are parts of it that are uninhabitable however Smeaton Dunsmore has tried to create a self sufficient community, away from the stress of everyday life and to “embrace the light”.  There is no internet for residents, mobile phones are not advised, and trips to the local village are not encouraged either.  The residents rub alongside each other quite well, each have their own tasks and generally are content – that is until Ali and Jack arrive. Their presence immediately seems to upset the balance and they are regarded with suspicion by some.

Angela, another resident, is a young woman obsessed with ghosts.  She is convinced there is an unwordly presence at Rosalind House and has set up cameras in order to try and prove her suspicions. She may be right – after all the House is steeped in local stories of witchcraft and of rather cruel practices at the former asylum.

Narrated by Ali, and Angela, together with the occasional voice of Smeeton, The Lingering is a mixture of genres.  Part psychological thriller, part ghost story and crime thriller, its an atmospheric story of how the past can affect the present, and of coercion and manipulation.  Do the residents have more to fear from the living than the dead?

I’ve had a fascination for ghost stories since childhood and whilst there was nothing in this book that scared me, it was certainly unsettling and atmospheric. When things happen is it just a trick of the mind or is there a malevolent ghostly presence?

Interspersed throughout the book are chapters written by a Dr Henry Baldock in the 1950’s.  He was sent to the hospital to report on its practices but what he discovers shocks even him.  It was these chapters that I found particularly interesting – we know that women (and men) were sent to these places for the most spurious of reasons, and it seems that in the name of ‘cure’, the patients were subject to the most inhumane treatments.

The Lingering is not a long read at just over 250 pages but I was thoroughly engrossed from the first page until its twisted conclusion.  Rosalind House is a character all on its own, with its dark corridors and hidden rooms containing relics of the past.  Character wise, there was one that I had an immediate dislike for but they are all well drawn and realistic – from Smeeton who just wants a harmonious community and tries to see the best in everyone to ‘Fairy Angela’ a young woman not sure of her place in the world but who just wants to find somewhere to belong.

Definitely a recommended read. Just be careful when you take a bath!!




|  About the Author  |


S.J.I. (Susi) Holliday grew up in East Lothian, Scotland. A life-long fan of crime and horror, her short stories have been published in various places, and she was shortlisted for the inaugural CWA Margery Allingham prize.

She has written three crime novels set in the fictional Scottish town of Banktoun, which are a mix of police procedural and psychological thriller. They are: “Black Wood”, “Willow Walk” and “The Damselfly” – all featuring the much loved character, Sergeant Davie Gray.

Her serial killer thriller “The Deaths of December” (written as Susi Holliday), featuring Detective Sergeant Eddie Carmine and Detective Constable Becky Greene was a festive hit in 2017.

Her spooky mystery “The Lingering” will be released in September 2018.

You can find out more at her website:  Sign-up for updates and giveaways here:

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