Reviews of Dark Fiction

Good Neighbors by Sarah Langan

This fairly hummed with tension for a long while and then the power lines came crashing down and almost all was lost-just like Shelly, down the Maple Street sinkhole.

It’s a tight knit community in this Long Island neighborhood and at first the Wilde family seemed to fit in. It’s a hot, hot summer and time for barbecues and swimming when, out of nowhere, a sinkhole opens nearby. As the hole widens and the bitumen seeps up, somehow the humanity of the residents seeps away. When the teen daughter of the Schroeder family falls into the sinkhole, the once friendly neighbors lash out in a need to place blame, and why not place it squarely on the Wilde’s doorstep? Will Shelly survive her fall? Will the Wildes survive Maple Street? You’ll have to read this to find out!

There are some themes woven into this narrative – global warming and mob mentality to name a few. That’s not to say this is a preachy book, and perhaps this is only my take but, I look around at the news right now and it’s about a new president’s actions on the environment and a recent insurrection and in that light, I don’t find this tale to be all that far out. Is that scary? Yes! Is it meant to be? Maybe so. Does it make you uncomfortable? It should.

I felt for these characters…well, most of them, and I was interested to see how the media portrayed them all. There were a fair amount of epistolary sections here-bits quoted from books later written about the incidents on Maple Street, newspaper articles from the time, etc.. From these articles I drew my own conclusions about the biases of the writers of those articles and then I got to thinking about how our news is reported and who is doing the reporting, and how that affects the facts and here we are in the “it’s probably just me” section again.

I’ve wandered away from the book itself, sorry about that. I think that GOOD NEIGHBORS has a lot of aspects to it and I find my mind turning it over again and again. I think I’m just going to leave it at what I’ve written and say that I very much enjoyed this story and obviously, it’s given me a lot to think about it and because of that? I highly recommend GOOD NEIGHBORS!

Thanks to Atra Books and NetGalley for this e-ARC in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!

Good Neighbors Book Cover Good Neighbors
Sarah Langan
Psychological Fiction, Thriller,
Atria Books

Celeste Ng’s enthralling dissection of suburbia meets Shirley Jackson’s creeping dread in this propulsive literary noir, when a sudden tragedy exposes the depths of deception and damage in a Long Island suburb—pitting neighbor against neighbor and putting one family in terrible danger.

Welcome to Maple Street, a picture-perfect slice of suburban Long Island, its residents bound by their children, their work, and their illusion of safety in a rapidly changing world.

But menace skulks beneath the surface of this exclusive enclave, making its residents prone to outrage. When the Wilde family moves in, they trigger their neighbors’ worst fears. Dad Arlo’s a gruff has-been rock star with track marks. Mom Gertie’s got a thick Brooklyn accent, with high heels and tube tops to match. Their weird kids cuss like sailors. They don’t fit with the way Maple Street sees itself.

Though Maple Street’s Queen Bee, Rhea Schroeder—a lonely college professor repressing a dark past—welcomed Gertie and her family at first, relations went south during one spritzer-fueled summer evening, when the new best friends shared too much, too soon. By the time the story opens, the Wildes are outcasts.

As tensions mount, a sinkhole opens in a nearby park, and Rhea’s daughter Shelly falls inside. The search for Shelly brings a shocking accusation against the Wildes. Suddenly, it is one mom’s word against the other’s in a court of public opinion that can end only in blood.

A riveting and ruthless portrayal of American suburbia, Good Neighbors excavates the perils and betrayals of motherhood and friendships and the dangerous clash between social hierarchy, childhood trauma, and fear.

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