"The Croning" Book Review
Written by Jersey John
Published by Night Shade Books
Written by Laird Barron
2013, 320 pages, Fiction
Released on February 15th, 2013
We who crawl in the dark love you. From that phrase on, Laird Barron had me hooked on his fairy-tale turned horror novel, The Croning. The pacing is what really caught my attention. I usually have the attention span of a 12-year-old without their adderol, but this felt refreshing and new to me. Starting out as what seemed to be a horror fantasy novel (my mind goes to The Dark Tower series), immediately abandons the almost medieval-esque setting. Barron jumps through time, back and forth from the days of antiquity, the '50s, '80s and finally the present.
The story revolves around Donald Miller, a man now in his eighties, who has lived a normal life, along side the love of his life and wife, Michelle. He, she and their twins, Kurt and Holly all shared a loving existence. Or so Donald thought, but something was never right. Donald's moments of happiness have always been followed by moments of sheer terror and clarity. And then nothing. Soon enough, a series of events that started long before recorded history and the dawn of man were about to unfold, sending him to the edge of his sanity and make him question the ones he truly loves. All because Donald "stumbled upon the secret of The Croning."
I'm not going to lie, The Croning took me a long time to read, far longer than any other book I've read in comparison to its length. Some may see this as a bad thing, but it was far from it. While I was reading, it nearly impossible to put down. It was after I stopped, in between my sessions, that I needed the time to think over what was exactly going on. I was left with an uneasy feeling, almost like someone was watching what I was doing from a distance and I was powerless to stop them. Much like our character Donald, upon finishing The Croning, I could imagine a world where the puppet strings were pulled eons ago and now I'm just learning of their repercussions. I hadn't felt this uneasy after reading a novel since The Shining and it was absolutely fantastic.
For lovers of H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King and the genius writing style of Hemingway, it would be a great disservice to not pick up The Croning. It honestly felt amazing and refreshing to be able to lose myself in a novel again that was written with an intelligent and trustworthy audience in mind. I say trustworthy because I, for not even an instant, worried about where Laird Barron was headed with his narrative. I sat back, turned the pages and bit my nails to the bone. I've waited a long while for that and I cannot wait until the next time.