A review by abbie_
Lanny, by Max Porter

dark emotional reflective tense medium-paced
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


I was sincerely kicking myself for not picking up a copy of Lanny sooner - this book is truly a masterpiece! One of the most vivid, sensory novels I’ve ever read, I felt mesmerised by Porter’s prose and completely captivated by his two protagonists, Lanny and Dead Papa Toothwort!
Lanny is an intuitive, ethereal young boy whose mind works in ways even his parents can’t often comprehend, preferring to be away with the fairies than grounded in real life. He’s such a sweet little boy, and his relationships with his parents and ‘Mad Pete’ had me choked up at times - such precious beans!!
Dead Papa Toothwort, on the other hand, is a shape-shifting spectre who has always walked the grounds of the small village where Lanny and his parents live. He sees and hears everything, nourishing himself on the everyday utterances of the village residents. I adored the parts where Porter creates a gorgeous cacophony of everyday voices, swirling across the page heedless of convention. It’s quite disconcerting to think about all the conversations taking place daily, and Porter captures that frenzy of voices perfectly.
Things take a darker turn in part two when Lanny disappears. The tone shifts and we hear from more perspectives: neighbours, journalists, strangers on social media. Porter paints a cutting portrait of how society acts when a tragedy takes place, pinpointing the way sympathy sours into suspicion when it turns out the family in question aren’t the perfect family - just normal, with their own problems like everyone else. The way the media likes to portray victims of tragedy as saints or heroes only to quickly change their mind to ‘they got what they deserved’ is chilling.
If you haven’t yet picked up this book, I urge you to give it a try! It’s experimental so it might not be for everyone, but it’s such a unique reading experience with unforgettable characters and prose that I definitely think it needs to at least be tried!