May 14, 2018 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, )

lady Lady by Thomas Tryon


Two of my favorite horror novels are The Other and Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon. Both are creepy, atmospheric novels of the horror people can commit against each other, and both have lingered long in my memory, enough that I’ve re-read them multiple times. I thought it might be time to broaden my knowledge of Tryon’s other books, and saw that Lady was set in the same fictional town — Pequot Landing — as those other two books. I figured that was a good place to start.

On the plus side, Lady maintains the same kind of atmosphere as the first two books; on the minus side, this isn’t a horror novel. That’s not really a bad thing, but I think readers react to this book expecting it to be like Tryon’s first two books. He creates a recurring sense of Gothic menace throughout the book that creates a mini-mystery that serves as the plot of the book, but for the most part, the story is a slice-of-life one, told from the perspective of a man recollecting his time growing up in Pequot Landing.

Though Woody narrates our story, it’s really about Lady, the enigmatic woman who lives across the street from them in their small town. She goes through phases, sometimes social and effusive, other times hiding herself away in her home for weeks at a time. Woody tells us how he perceived these shifts in behavior from his younger, more innocent days, while being honest about his infatuation with her. Eventually, he learns what drives this behavior, but not without learning lessons that force him to grow up.

I saw another review that compared this book to Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury, and I agree with that assessment. Both stories are looks back at a more idyllic, innocent time, through the eyes of characters who are growing up and learning more about reality. They both take different approaches to their reminiscings, most notably though how they approach nostalgia. Bradbury embraces it and celebrates it, while Tryon seems to look back at youth with an appreciation, eschewing nostalgia for a more realistic look back at childhood and growing up. I think it helps that Tryon uses social issues to drive character growth in the story.

I can understand readers being disappointed that this isn’t The Other, Part Three, but I found this book to be entertaining and memorable. Readers who enjoy Tryon’s style will enjoy it, so long as they understand going in to the book that it’s a divergence from Tryon’s first two novels. It would be a shame if readers overlooked the book simply because it isn’t horror; what it is is a well told tale about growing up in turbulent times.

Unfortunate Musical Connection: “Lady” by Styx

Started: March 4, 2018
Finished: March 17, 2018

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