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The Keeper

(Keeper #1)

3.32  ·  Rating details ·  2,117 ratings  ·  222 reviews
Some believe Bedford, Maine, is cursed. Its bloody past, endless rain, and the decay of its downtown portend a hopeless future. With the death of its paper mill, Bedford's unemployed residents soon find themselves with far too much time to dwell on thoughts of Susan Marley. Once the local beauty, she's now the local whore. Silently prowling the muddy streets, she watches e ...more
Paperback, 382 pages
Published August 29th 2006 by Harper Torch 2006-09-01 (first published 2006)
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Ashley Yes, here is what the book jacket says - 'Some believe Bedford, Maine, is cursed. Its bloody past, endless rain, and the decay of its downtown portend…moreYes, here is what the book jacket says - 'Some believe Bedford, Maine, is cursed. Its bloody past, endless rain, and the decay of its downtown portend a hopeless future. With the death of its paper mill, Bedford's unemployed residents soon find themselves with far too much time to dwell on thoughts of Susan Marley. Once the local beauty, she's now the local whore. Silently prowling the muddy street, she watches eerily from the shadows, waiting for ...something. And haunting the sleep of everyone in town with monstrous visions of violence and horror.

Those who are able will leave Bedford before the darkness fully ascends. But those who are trapped here - from Susan Marley's long-suffering mother and younger sister to her guilt-ridden, alcoholic ex-lover to the destitute and faithless with nowhere else to go - will soon know the fullest and most terrible meaning of nightmare.' (less)

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Average rating 3.32  · 
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Mar 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Back in Horror's heyday, the masters (Straub, King, et al.) would crank out 500 to 800 page apocalyptic tomes, usually set in some small town filled with secrets, that never seemed to end. At the end of these novels, everything would blow up. I was never a huge fan, not because I didn't like horror (I love it), but because for me, horror works best with a tighter, smaller focus, with an emphasis on atmosphere (I'm a Ramsey Campbell fan). Give me dread over explosions any day. Langan's Keeper is ...more
Tracy Robinson
Feb 10, 2020 rated it really liked it

THE KEEPER was my first read by Sarah Langan and it also happens to have a sequel that I now NEED immediately. This one is listed mostly as a thriller, but y’all, this is horror. HORROR. We have a small town with a metric ton of secrets, people with major issues, and some of the grossest/creepiest scenes I’ve read in awhile. Langan definitely doesn’t shy away from anything, and I am here for it. If I ever see a Susan, I’m out. All the way out.

I ended up going with a 4 for this. I loved my time
Aug 29, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Someone I'd want to confuse...
Shelves: ivereadthis
I don't know. The story seemed good, the characters were well developed, but it just went no where and the author, in her freshman attempt does manage to create a certain tension but the transitions are way too unbelievable in a book where on one hand the supernatural is subtle and on the other it attempts to be grandiose. Oh, and the ending completely falls apart. I managed to finish it but it was a difficult task.
Jul 29, 2016 rated it liked it
The town of Bedford, Maine, is slowly decaying. Bedford only has one major industry in the town and that is the paper mill. The mill pollutes, the air and poisons the water. The workers have to breath in the sulfur from the mill and it is slowly kill them. The town runs into some rough economics times and some of the workers are let go. In the end, the mill finally closes for good and town is dying a slow death. The town is concerned about Susan Marley, some folks thinks that she is a witch. Sus ...more
Bryan Alexander
Sep 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gothic
I read this novel as part of my quest for the best horror novels of the 21st century. Sarah Langan's name kept coming up. Each of her novels appeared, so I decided to start with her first, since there's some indication of a sequence. And I'm glad I did.

On the surface The Keeper looks like a familiar horror trope: a town to be destroyed by dark forces. (Think Peter Straub's Floating Dragon for one example) That kept my expectations down, especially as the book appeared in 2006. I was pleasantly s
Olivia Burton
Oct 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 21, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror
My first book of the year turned out to be entirely unplanned--an impulse purchase at Albertson's when I went down there yesterday to pick up various staples. The Keeper is apparently a debut horror/suspense novel, and the blurb made it sound halfway interesting, so I figured what the hell.

There are a lot of oft-used tropes in this book: the run-down New England town, the creepy abandoned locale where nobody wants to go, the townsfolk full of secrets and in many ways just not right, the crazy yo
Nov 08, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: horror
I do not believe I've ever read a horror novel that was so directionless and dull. Uninteresting characters doing pointless things resulting in an indifferent plot. If the author wasn't such a good writer I would have rated this one star. But she appears to have some promise even in this unimpressive debut. So I'll hover at two and hope she does better in the future.
Sep 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, horror

3.5 stars

Has an early King feel, but heavier on atmosphere than plot.

A little overstuffed, but it would be a good prestige TV series.
Kurt Reichenbaugh
Sep 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror
It's the time of year I turn to more horror novels. The Keeper is a good novel, but a bit of a slow burn, leaning to more mood piece than funhouse horror. It's a story told mainly through backstories and scenery building. Like going to a play and watching the set designers working instead of the actors carrying the story. That doesn't make it bad thing. I did like the book and I appreciated the idea of a town haunted by its own sins and failures. I've never lived in a factory town, but my grandp ...more
Shalor T.
Oct 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Having read Langan's second book (The Missing), I picked this book up soon after. After a few pages of reading I realised that I'd started the books backward & that this book was supposed to come before it. By the time I finished this book I was slightly glad that I'd read this one first. I do have to say that I prefer this book over the second one.

The book follows two sisters, the dreamy eyed Susan who wanders the town & frightens all of it's inhabitants as well as terminally depressed Liz, who
Apr 22, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror, 2008
Rain and zombies come to a small town in Maine. Scary stuff. But why do things like this always happen in Maine? I tell you what... I read this book while on vacation in Utah. Someone should write a horror novel about a small town in that state. Snow and zombies in Park City. That would really be scary.
Nov 07, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror
I've read two of Langan's books--Audrey's Door and The Missing--and thought they were excellent. I just couldn't get into The Keeper. There was not one character that I felt was genuine, and I hated them all.
The characters are two-dimensional, and even the town drunk and dedicated sheriff couldn't make me care for them.

Dec 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
While this started, and continued to about 3/4 at a pretty slow place, Langan artfully uses that time to craft unexpected characters and haunting backdrops that bring the small town of Bedford Maine to an eerie sort of life that explodes into action for a satisfying and riveting finale.

Reminiscent of Stephen King's penchant for evils that permeate small towns, but utterly shunning the levity that King likes to pepper into his stories. I hope that Langan continues to share her dark imagination wi
Jun 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Tragic horror fans
Shelves: horror, favorites
This is my second Langan read, after Audrey's Door, and I do think Langan's stories have a particular flavor. Troubled young women struggling with mental illness are featured in both. Both books are quite dark and can be difficult to read at times. There are definitely moments in both of them that are gut-wrenchingly sad. But Langan writes in a readable style that keeps me going throughout no matter what. She shines at character development. People in her books are very realistic and many times, ...more
Mar 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Saw this on a list for best horror of 21st century. While I found it to be well-written (only reason I’m giving it 3) it was awfully repetitive in places (blue eyes, she had blue eyes, guys, Susan’s eyes were blue). I also felt like the link between the “ghosts of the town” and Susan’s “weirdness” wasn’t developed enough for me. I like small towns with deep, dark secrets and a past but the supernatural aspects could have used a little refining.
Dec 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
I'm writing this after having finished it in a single sitting; yes: it's late - and yes: it was worth it. This is an excellent horror tale, with mystery that made me want to keep reading, and weird and terrible stuff that actually made me feel scared, at times. I enjoyed every moment of reading it.
Apr 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror
Interesting small town horror novel gave me some goosebumps but left me a bit uninterested towards the ending.
Feb 16, 2014 rated it did not like it
Pfft. Yep, that's a fart noise. I didn't like this book.
McGrouchpants, Ltd.
Jan 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
"The People in This Town Were Like Strange and Varied Songs":
Individual Autonomy vs. Communal Ties
in Sarah Langan's The Keeper

Christopher Snyder
April 12, 2013
Little Red Schoolhouse
(undergrad vers.)
- 1 -

¶ Under the guise of a horror novel, Sarah Langan's The Keeper

(2006) explores the horror within us all: Sartre's “other people.”

By, of, and for them, the churning unease in the face of the

“other" — any “other,” any at
Kristopher Kelly
Aug 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Sarah Langan's bleak debut horror novel is, at its best, a story of two sisters--one, Susan Marley, who suffers all the worst torments of the world, and the other, Liz Marley, who walks a luckier path. "It should have been you," says Susan. And Liz can't escape the haunting words. She lives under the shadow of Susan's horrible fate.

I loved this core of the book, and I thought the oppressive atmosphere of Bedford, Maine was so well-drawn that it was enough to make me wonder if Langan was at all
Yvette Adams
decent writing. interesting story. spooky. the end
Jun 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Have I ever told you I hate stupid endings? In case you missed it previously - I hate stupid cliffhanging endings. And in this case, I'm not even sure I want to read the next one. I felt like I was in the middle of an LSD high through much of this book. Many, if not all, of the characters were very unlikable. The only thing I learned is if you died in this small town, you may not necessarily stay dead. And all dreams are bad.
Terry Weyna
Jan 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Bedford, Maine, is a town with one industry: the paper mill. It’s been poisoning the water and air for generations, and workers have all sorts of physical complaints from breathing sulfur and other toxic fumes, but if anyone thought about it, they’d know that the recent closing of the mill probably dooms their town.

But no one’s thinking about the mill and the town’s economy. Instead, they’re all focused on Susan Marley. She’s a silent, beautiful woman in her mid-20’s who lives in squalor, turnin
Melissa Helwig
Feb 27, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror
After reading and enjoying Sarah Langan's most recent novel, Audrey's Door, I decided to try her first novel, The Keeper. I didn't like is as much as Audrey's Door, but it wasn't bad for a first novel.

There is something wrong with Susan Marley. The residents of the small town of Bedford, Maine cross the street when she approaches and blame her for all their problems; especially for the terrifying things that dominate their dreams. But it's not just Susan, the whole town is haunted thanks to its
Apr 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: stephen king fans, supernatural fans
Bedford,Maine is a ghost of its former self. Once a bustling mill town that era has finally came to an end whith the company who ran the mill moving on to greener pastures. With the last source of employment drying up, the town teeters on the brink of oblivion. In this limbo the mysterious Susan Marley wanders the town and the residents dreams. When anyone looks at her they seem to rember things that they would rather forget. Susan Marley has a secret and soon that secret will bring peopl
Mark R.
Dec 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
One of the saddest horror stories I've read. Essentially a ghost story, the ghost in Sarah Langan's excellent debut novel is a twenty-three-year-old woman long ago abandoned (and in the case of her father, abused) by her parents, slipping into dementia sometime after high school. She wanders the town and is a known fixture in the local bar and on the sidewalks, where she ambles along, not speaking, giving everyone in town a real case of the creeps.

The other ghost is the town itself, once known f
Vince Liaguno
Aug 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
With advance accolades coming from the likes of Straub and Ramsey Campbell, it’s easy to be caught up in the promotional blitz of such a book – even easier to be let down against the backdrop of such hype. But Langan doesn’t disappoint with a debut so entrancing, so unnerving, and so downright chilling that readers will feel as if they’ve witnessed the birth of a bona fide classic and the beginning of a literary career of the King-Straub-Campbell caliber by the time they read the final sentence. ...more
Sep 27, 2008 rated it it was ok
I don't know...the book was just ok, but that's it. I had problems sympathisizing with any of the characters, with the consequence that I didn't care much about what happened to them. Not that I need a character to be perfectly flawless to like. But in this book, the description of the persons, of their thoughts and actions remained shallow in a way. I missed a deeper feeling to be able to fear with or hope for them. Some chapters simply dragged along without actually pressing ahead with the sto ...more
David Larsson
May 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
Sarah Langan takes the small American town, slowly dying from it's only economical stability taken from it, and puts some real horror in it. Sure, we've seen this before, and many of the themes that's explored in The Keeper is stuff that has be done. But, when one does it so well as Langan does here, stuff like that just doesn't matter a whole lot. This is a tragic and sad horror story about a girl that never got treated right, and who, in the end, decided to take revenge in a very grave sense.
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Sarah grew up on Long Island and went to college in Waterville, Maine, where she published her first story, "Sick People." She got her MFA in creative writing from Columbia University, and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.

In addition to writing novels, she also has a Master's in Environmental Health Science/Toxicology from New York University.

Her next novel GOOD NEIGHBORS will be released by

Other books in the series

Keeper (2 books)
  • The Missing (Keeper, #2)

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