From the Vault:
The Caretaker of Lorne Field
I got this book based on the following premise: There’s a man who weeds the same field every day, but what if what he was weeding were monsters instead of weeds? And though I believe that the story is well told, I found the ambiguity to be the most trying part. I would have expected to read a 237 page book in under four hours, but it took me longer than that due to the ambiguity. Are the weeds really monsters or is this just a story of a man who is thoroughly deluded? That question remains unanswered until page 236, which in my view makes this story a successful psychological thriller, but not such a great monster story. It’s not the threat of the monsters that keeps the tension up; it’s the truly horrifying lengths the caretaker is willing to go to to make sure that the field gets weeded.
Jack Durkin is the ninth generation of Durkins who have weeded Lorne Field for nearly 300 years. Though he and his wife Lydia are miserable and would like nothing more than to leave, Jack must wait until his son has come of age to tend the field on his own. It’s an important job, though no one else seems to realize it. For, if the field is left untended, a horrific monster called an Aukowie will grow—a monster capable of taking over the entirety of America in just two weeks. Or so it is said. . .
Although the characters are believable, they failed me in one very important regard- I didn’t really invest in any of them. The one character who won most of my sympathy, oddly, was lawyer Hank Thompson. Of all the characters, he went out of his way to support Durkin and pretty much everything he did won me over more and more. Durkin was believable, but he just didn’t win my sympathy. He had his beliefs, but the way he’s already given up on humanity does nothing to make him into an empathetic character. Even his wife, who I would normally empathize with, struck me as a bit gray around the gills.
I find myself feeling as ambivalent to the story as Durkin felt towards the rest of humanity. It didn’t raise my blood pressure or make me fly through the pages. Though it could be argued that the driving force of the story is enigma, for me it fell a little flat and came out as uncertainty. Admittedly, it ends well, but the end didn’t really justify the means in this case.
I don’t know why, but my brain keeps telling me that this story was just a little too The Winter of Our Discontent for me.
3 ink bottles.
I’d like to give credit to Mfred’s review of this book on Goodreads for helping my ideas for this review coalesce. Her review can be found at the Goodreads link above, just scroll down a bit.