Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Laird Koenig: The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane

I just ran into this novel in my local library. Apparently, though, it received some fame from a movie based on it in which Jodie Foster plays the little girl (1976). The book was published in 1974 (and I think the year before in German), and it is definitely of the Gothic Horror and Gothic Romance genres.

In this novel, the little girl, Rynn, is home all alone. What happened to her mother and father? Rynn must fend for herself as a thirteen year old (if she really is thirteen) and keep nosy people-- like Mrs. Hallet and her son Frank-- out of the house and away from the basement. She does this in ingenious and frightening ways.

Characterization: 4/5 [The little girl is well described. I could definitely see her portrayed by Jodie Foster-- who can be so serious. Mario, her boyfriend, is also a round character. I am going to have to check the movie out when I can.]

Plot: 5/5 [The plot is thick with suspense and an almost surreal quality. It keeps moving, dragging you relentlessly along, and there is a nice twist at the end.]

Atmosphere/spooky elements: 5/5 [The novel opens on Halloween night; ironically, the girl is unaware of this, though she is creepy herself. Her Halloween visitor is a pedophile (not something I will soon forget). She is all alone. To add to that, there is a mouse she keeps as a pet as well as chanting along with a record in a foreign language. Murder and mayhem occurs. I also have to warn that if you are fond of pet mice or rats, you won't like one part of the story. With all the creepy happenings in here, I think this novel will be with me for a while.]

Literary: 5/5 [If you like Emily Dickinson, you will enjoy this novel. The girl's father is a famous poet, and she often talks about his poetry and others' poetry or recites passages aloud. Koenig also has something to say about adults and children in society and what their roles are, and perhaps, should be.]

Romance? Yes, there is a sweet love story in here, and then there is the creepy stuff.

Rating: 4+ stars   ****+

I highly recommend this one-- maybe even for one of your Halloween reads this year. It is creative and at the very least, unsettling.

The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane



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