“Audrey’s Door” by Sarah Langan (Harper, 2009)

Audrey's Doorstarstar

In Bram Stoker winner, Sarah Langan’s third novel, Audrey’s Door, the reader is left with questions and feeling confused, which is never a good sign for a book.  Audrey Lucas has a lot of problems: with a terrible upbringing from a drug-addicted and abusive mother, she managed to get herself an architectural degree and is pretty good at it, yet her mental status is certainly to be questioned; then there’s her boyfriend who she’s becoming close to but has commitment issues with, then he proposes and she just needs to get away from everything.  Audrey moves into a new apartment that she finds at a record rent for New York in an old building known as the Breviary.  Of course, there are a few caveats with moving in: she has to vetted by the landlord and tenants first to be a specific kind of person, and she apparently qualifies.  Audrey loves the place, as it’s one of the last examples of Chaotic Naturalism still standing.  After getting somewhat settled, Audrey then discovers that it was in her very apartment that a short while ago a mother killed herself and all her four children.

Audrey never gets a decent night’s sleep at the Breviary, plagued by strange dreams and nightmares.  She wakes to find she has wet her bed (something she had problems with as a child) and that she has been busy in the night building a doorway out of boxes and packing tape, which will open to she knows not where.  Then there are the strange tenants, who spy on her every move, and seem like they’ve lived there for centuries.  As Audrey begins researching the history of the building, she finds it to be a unique and unusual commune for unique and unusual people.  Then she discovers the number of deaths and suicides in the building and realizes she’s made a very big mistake.  But with her job on the line and her sanity all but gone, she doesn’t know what to do.

Audrey’s Door won Sarah Langan the Bram Stoker Award once again in 2009, and while the novel definitely has its high points with its interesting characters, the down-spiraling of Audrey’s sanity, and the unusual plot; at the end the reader is left unsatisfied and wondering on the whole story, while this reader is wondering why the book won an award at all.

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Originally written on June 8 2010 ©Alex C. Telander.