Read This: The Missing

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September 9, 2013 by Laird

Here’s a review I wrote a few years ago for Sarah Langan’s The Missing.

I recently finished The Missing, Sarah Langan’s sophomore novel. It reads as an homage to classic 80s horror, albeit possessed of a thoroughly modern sensibility — echoes of Salem’s Lot, itself an homage to Stoker’s Dracula. Considering the organic nature of Langan’s supernatural intrusion, her effort represents a delightful — and ongoing — literary mutation of the original source. Comparisons to Stephen King are duly earned, although I think Langan’s portraits of human frailty are even darker and more queasily affecting than King’s early work. Langan’s writing and characterization are sharp. She juggles multiple viewpoints with seamless precision; one is swiftly immersed in the overlapping storylines of each new character. The vignettes featuring extras about to suffer a horrible fate are also remarkably accomplished. It requires significant skill to emotionally involve the reader with bit characters in a matter of a few hundred words, and this, I believe, is one of her strengths.
I recently participated in a library project  to recommend books, films, etc. Here’s the capsule review I wrote for The Missing:
“This is a supernatural thriller by relatively new author Sarah Langan. A boy sneaks away from a class field trip and stumbles across a bizarre clearing in the woods — a clearing where the earth has gone black with blood and animal bones are piled in sacrificial biers. The boy’s intrusion stirs a great evil that soon begins to consume the Maine town of Corpus Christi, transforming its unwitting citizenry into something atavistic, and, ultimately, quite inhuman. Langan wrenches the longstanding tropes of sleepy towns and festering curses into the 21st century. Her depiction of small town life and the dark side of human nature would be no less compelling were it utterly stripped of its supernatural elements.”

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