A new book review of "The Lurker" on Kultura21.cz
The Lurker moves forward silently, leaving deep tracks in its wake.
Sylva Lauerová’s new novel goes by the title of The Lurker. Where will the author’s fantasies lead us this time? Well, let's delve into the story, shrouded in a veil of strange energy emanating from rare sources. Sources threatened with extinction, if some miracle doesn’t save them soon.
Prague’s underground Metro system is a kind of parallel world in which people in extremely close physical quarters try to maintain the greatest mental distance possible. Locking themselves away in their own private shells, binding their soft bodies with threads of worry, fear, resentment, contempt and hatred; their calcified crusts reliably deflect any undesirable contact. It may be that over time they completely fossilize and there is no longer a soft body, nor heat, within; leaving behind only cold stone. And there in amongst them is an ugly creature moving about, slimy, smelly, almost invisible, silent, and constantly seeking something … a man without a past; the Lurker.
This poor creature turns out to be a link intersecting five life stories; stories in which the main characters struggle with their problems. Dysfunctional relationships, unfulfilled motherhood, the loss of loved ones, work issues, misunderstandings, unrequited love and jealousy – all that troubles them. Thoughts that pursue their every step lead each one of them one day into the underground spaces of the Metro. There, just for a brief moment, the Lurker will cross their path, catching their eyes with an intent stare that will at once shake them but soon be forgotten. The events of the following days though will shift their lives forever, bringing a surprise for each of them in the form of dramatic changes. But for the better or worse?
And what is the role of this poor devil who, thanks to Mrs. Božena’s good grace, finds shelter in the ground floor storeroom of her old apartment house? As soon as dawn breaks, the Lurker returns to the bowels of the Metro and searches in vain for the nourishment he so desperately needs.
In the bleak spaces and labyrinthine corridors, we have glimpsed not only the mysteries of the Prague underground but also the twists of the Lurker’s mind, mission and destiny.
Don’t be surprised to hear that the ending will once again startle you and that you’ll have to go back and re-read certain passages, if not the whole book. Sylva Lauerová again dexterously employs her fascination with the depths of the human mind and shows her ability to empathetically convey the feelings of others. Even though this time the story is not set against the exotic backdrop of a desert island or the Amazon jungle, nor does it radiate erotic tension, there is still enough food for thought and self-reflection. Neither is it lacking in thrills.
Thanks to Lauerová’s aptly ascribed means of communication and verbal expression to each of the individual characters, the reader can clearly hear the nuances of each of their voices, making the story far more realistic. Age, social status, mood, these are all reflected in the narrative and dialogue.
"Boži…, girl…, my dear, are you crazy?" … “I don’t know anymore, Drahu, I don’t know," Božena told her, “I just need to think it over." She turned away and went to make the coffee. She did not want her friend to see her confused and worried expression. Where would this guy go? He’d lived here for so many years. He’d never bothered anyone – she heard her mind tell her – he was just a poor old thing.
(The old ladies, Božena and Draha.)
Sylva Lauerová does not underestimate the power of visual communication, as evidenced by the book cover. The face and hands protruding from the parched, cracked earth are covered with a layer peeling clay or ash. A dry crust covers the face with a difficultly definable, but certainly not blank, expression touched by long, slender fingers. Eyes half closed, mouth open in the last exhalation or just sighing … The dark background depicts the life-sustaining gathering storm clouds, thunder and lightning, which will wash away the mask, or perhaps the flood that will wash away everything?
There are after all so many possibilities and ‘things are seldom what they seem’.
Tichošlap (The Lurker)
Author: Sylva Lauerová
Genre: Gothic Thriller
Release Year: 2012
Number of pages: 213
Publisher: van Aspen s.r.o.
Photo Source: www.sylvalauerova.cz