The Keep by Jennifer Egan
Abacus (paperback), 2006
WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT
Award-winning author Jennifer Egan brilliantly conjures a world from which escape is impossible and where the keep-–the tower, the last stand-–is both everything worth protecting and the very thing that must be surrendered in order to survive.
Two cousins, irreversibly damaged by a childhood prank, reunite twenty years later to renovate a medieval castle in Eastern Europe. In an environment of extreme paranoia, cut off from the outside world, the men re-enact the signal event of their youth, with even more catastrophic results. And as the full horror of their predicament unfolds, a prisoner, in jail for an unnamed crime, recounts an unforgettable story that seamlessly brings the crimes of the past and present into piercing relation.
The castle was falling apart, but at 2am under a useless moon, Danny couldn’t see this. What he saw looked solid as hell: two round towers with an arch between them and across that arch was an iron gate that looked like it hadn’t moved in three hundred years or maybe ever.
WHAT I THOUGHT
I’m a huge fan of Jennifer Egan and have read all of her books except A Visit from the Goon Squad which is on my TBR list.
I thought The Keep was fantastic. Egan offers a unique and modern twist on the gothic novel. Egan is a skilled writer and the atmosphere in the novel is perfect – I had a sense of foreboding and uneasiness from page one. Egan manages to make shivers crawl down my spine at every turn. From the start I got a sense something was very wrong with The Keep, the mysterious Baroness and Howard and Danny’s relationship. Things take a sinister turn Danny falls (or was he pushed?) from the window of The Keep. I thought the second half of the novel after Danny’s ‘accident’ was much darker than the first half and slightly better written. I loved the strange and unsettling conclusion.
I loved The Keep and would highly recommend it.