Author: Max Porter
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Genre: Literary Fiction, Folklore
Lanny is a strange, enchanting and unnerving tale that will leave you feeling slightly uneasy. Combining mystery with the supernatural and the incredibly mundane, it will leave most of your questions unanswered and force you to think about it for hours after reading.
SPOILER LEVEL: LOW | This review contains minor details about the characters and plot of this novel that can be found in the blurb.
I was captivated by this book in much the same way that the young and slightly odd child Lanny is able to captivate children and adults alike in this story. It follows Lanny’s childhood from the perspective of the adults around him, the unexplained mystery that surrounds many of his actions, and the strange legend of Dead Papa Toothwart. I was completely entranced by this strange and unnerving tale and the more I thought about it afterwards, the more I loved it. I had to give it 5 stars, and I cannot wait to reread it.
I decided to listen to the audiobook after @ems_shelflove (side note – check out her blog! She posts the most amazing reviews!) recommended it to me. I am definitely going to let her influence my audiobook choices more often! Wow. This was an incredible book, and one that I am not going to be able to stop thinking about for some time.
It took me a few minutes to get used to the audiobook, but after that I was hooked. The first section is told from the perspective of Dead Papa Toothwart and has some background noise, which made it a little harder to listen to, but I did get used it quite quickly and it isn’t like that for the entire audiobook. It has several narrators – the majority of the story is told from the perspectives of Dead Papa Toothwart, Lanny’s mum and dad, and Lanny’s friend Pete. The narrators change quite often, and there are small sections with other narrators, such as a village neighbour, which made the audiobook a really great format for differentiating between all of the different narrators.
Each voice felt very distinct, and I liked the style in which Max Porter described the same scenes and moments from multiple perspectives. I was laughing out loud at several points as the same incident was described by multiple people and the discrepancies between their accounts was really funny to listen to. There are loud outbursts of anger and rage, quiet moments of reflection, quickening voices during moments of tension, drawn out voices in other instances. It made for an incredibly captivating audiobook and I barely noticed how much time had passed as I became fully immersed in the world of Lanny.
I have decided that lyrical, atmospheric and somewhat disjointed writing styles are my favourite. I love writing that is beautiful to read and listen to, and it didn’t matter when there were moments where I didn’t quite catch everything, or I wasn’t 100% sure what was happening. It was somewhat disorientating, which was perfect in a novel with an air of mystery and supernatural, and it really added to the tension. I was completely gripped; I couldn’t decide where the novel was going or what the outcome was going to be, but I love that it was left somewhat open-ended to the allow the reader to continue speculating about the events of the novel that are not given an explanation. I love the layout of some of the writing in the book and I am looking forward to rereading Lanny with the physical book whilst listening along to the audiobook.
I have added Max Porter’s other book, Grief is the Thing with Feathers, to my wish list and I am looking forward to buying it and reading it in the future. I am hoping it is just as lyrical and unnerving as Lanny.
If you’re read Lanny, I’d love some recommendations for books that are similar!