A dreamy whodunnit.”WSJ Magazine
“[Porter offers] the ultimate incantation of nature and its pitiless sovereignty. . . . Lanny is one of the most beautiful novels of the past decade.”BookPage
“Porter is an enchanter with words. . . . Elegantly mysterious: a story worthy of an M.R. James or even a Henry James and a welcome return by an author eminently worth reading.”Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“In his bold second novel, Porter combines pastoral, satire, and fable in the entrancing tale of a boy who vanishes from an idyllic British village. . . . This is a dark and thrilling excavation into a community’s legend-packed soil.”Publishers Weekly, starred review
“[Lanny] delivers quite the punch with its combination of unlikely effervescence, authentic emotion, and literary exploration. . . . Porter has created both an entertaining tale and a novel of exceptionally creative experimentation and genre extension.”Booklist, starred review
“This imaginative novel starts off dreamily, picks up speed, and races to a propulsive conclusion. A guaranteed edge-of-your-seat read.”Library Journal, starred review
“It’s hard to express how much I loved Lanny. Books this good don’t come along very often. It’s a novel like no other, an exhilarating, disquieting, joyous read. It will reach into your chest and take hold of your heart. Every page is a joy. It’s a novel to press into the hands of everyone you know and say, read this.”Maggie O’Farrell
“Max Porter writes like no one else and it is impossible not to be swept along and astounded. Lanny is a wonder.”Daisy Johnson
“The writing is stunning and deeply affecting. The plot thunders along. This is a book that resolutely refuses to be categorised but to get somewhere close, think: Under Milk Wood meets Broadchurch.”Nathan Filer
“It takes a special kind of genius to create something which is both so strange and yet so compulsive.”Mark Haddon
“It shouldn’t be possible for a book to be simultaneously heart-stopping, heart-shaking and pulse-racing, but that is only one of the extraordinary feats Max Porter pulls off in this astonishing novel.”Kamila Shamsie
“A powerful yet tender reclamation of the imagination, love, and artmakingall of it a brilliant defense of the outsider’s tenuous foothold in society.”Ocean Vuong
“Reading Lanny is like going to the back of the garden to find the exact spot where magic and menace meet. It’s delightful and dark, stark and stylish, and as strange as it is scaryI loved it.”Claire Cameron
An off-center sophomore novel by Porter (Grief Is the Thing with Feathers, 2016) steeped in British folklore and a canny sense of the uncanny.
"He knows people were cheated of the story they expected. Or wanted." So writes Porter toward the end of this slender story, which turns on a surprising twist indeed. A couple of hundred pages earlier, at the start, the first character to appear bears the unlikely name of Dead Papa Toothwort. He has been waiting patiently across the seasons, and now Dead Papa Toothwort, coughing up "Victorian rubbish," listens for a newcomer to the village, the child of once-ambitious but now resigned Londoners who have moved an hour outside the metropolis, still within commuting distance, to get some peace and quiet. Lanny is more gifted than his Mum and Dad know, and when he disappears, it develops that he has taken full advantage of the freedom his smarts have given him: "Parents of missing Lanny admit he was free to wander the village," scolds the press. Numerous players enter into the story along the way, including an eccentric artist known as Mad Pete, who knows more than he lets on, and an earth-mother type called Peggy, who communes with a gnarled oak chest to send a message: "I know you. / I know what you're up to. / Give the boy back." The chthonic spirit of the place, Dead Papa himself, is in no mood to comply, and meanwhile, as the story progresses, it seems that Lanny has a few supernatural abilities himself: "It was easier to accept that Dad was lying than it was to have no rational explanation," recounts Mum of one incident. Porter is an enchanter with words; at no point does his story, recalling British tales of the Green Man, seem improbable, even as its eerier and more inexplicable moments come faster, revealing the leafy darkness that threatens the unwary.
Elegantly mysterious: a story worthy of an M.R. James or even a Henry James and a welcome return by an author eminently worth reading.
A wood spirit known as Papa Toothwort hovers over a village outside of London, surveying the passing scene while snatches of conversation swirl around him. Observing everything with folksy humor, he takes particular interest in Lanny, a curious young boy who lives with his mother, a former actress now at home writing thrillers, and his Dad, who works as an asset manager in the city. To encourage Lanny's creative bent, Mum arranges lessons for him with their neighbor, "Mad Pete," whose glory days as an avant-garde artist are mostly in the past and who's viewed as dodgy by his fellow villagers. The unlikely friendship that blossoms between the old eccentric and the young boy troubles the nosy neighbors. So when tragedy strikes, it comes as no surprise that Pete is first to fall under suspicion. However, it isn't long before Lanny's parents, village outsiders, are also considered suspect. VERDICT This imaginative novel starts off dreamily, picks up speed, and races to a propulsive conclusion. A guaranteed edge-of-your-seat read. [See Prepub Alert, 11/26/18.]—Barbara Love, formerly with Kingston Frontenac P.L., Ont.