The Missing by Sarah Langan


From Goodreads: A remote and affluent Maine community, Corpus Christi was untouched by the environmental catastrophe that destroyed the neighboring blue-collar town of Bedford. But all that will change in a heartbeat . . .

The nightmare is awakened when third-grade schoolteacher Lois Larkin takes the children on a field trip to Bedford. There in the abandoned woods, a small, cruel boy unearths an ancient horror–a contagious plague that transforms its victims into something violent, hungry . . . and inhuman.

The long, dark night is just beginning. And all hope must die as the contagion feeds–for the malevolence will not rest until it has devoured every living soul in Corpus Christi . . . and beyond.

I read The Missing during the week of Halloween. I can honestly say it is the perfect October read if you’re into horror (which, of course, I am). However, I would further venture to say that if you were interested in only reading one scary book during the year, The Missing should be seriously considered.  It is scary, suspenseful, and unexpected. What more can you ask for?

Lois Larkin is unhappy, though she is just passing it off as allergies. As she looks back on the last several years worth of decisions, she realizes she has made many, many mistakes. The first: moving back to Corpus Christi, where she has been stuck ever since. On the day that marks the culmination of the unfortunate choices she has made, she lets the class bully go on the class field trip without a partner. He purposefully separates himself for the class, wandering in the desolate Bedford woods. At least he assumes he is alone, until he hears a voice talking to him. Then James begins to dig… And what James digs up will change the world.

The Missing by Sarah Langan is a fantastic horror read (when Peter Straub says you’re good, you’re really good). The cast of characters is populated by everyone from children to adults, with varying degrees of likability  The town of Corpus Christi could be any affluent New England town, except this one borders on the  ghost town of Bedford. As in many of the  best horror novels, residents of the town strive to hide the darker side of their lives and desires, but you don’t have to scratch the surface too hard to for them to come bubbling up. As the virus seeps into town, everyone has their own reaction, from denial to curiosity to action.  Perhaps the most fascinating character was Fenstad, the town’s prominent psychiatrist. As Fenstad tries to hang onto his humanity, defend his family, and plan for the future, he will come up against things he never believed possible (in his rational world at least).

I’m not sure what to classify the results of the virus as – maybe a cross between zombie and vampire. What makes the infected unique is that while they don’t exactly retain their humanity, they do retain intelligence and emotion, primarily hatred, anger, resentment, and jealousy. Though motivated primarily by their hunger, the secondary motivations are almost always of the dark emotional variety.

The Missing is a first-rate, intelligent, effective horror novel. It is one of my favorites that I’ve read over the last few years, as well as one of the most original. The Missing is technically the follow-up of The Keeper, but it is not necessary to have read that one to enjoy and understand this one. If you like horror, Sarah Langan is an author to watch. 4/5. (5/5 if read on Halloween).

Image: Goodreads

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