Genre: Adult Fantasy (Folk Horror)
Year Release: 2021
Source: Library Audiobook
Listened to the audiobook
Trigger warnings: child kidnapping, speculation around child molestation and trafficking
Lanny takes place in a bucolic English village with a handful of residents and the titular child who befriends the town coot, Mad Pete, while Dead Papa Toothworth – part fae, part cryptid – observes the comings and goings in the land that he’s lived in since time immemorial.
In reviews I’ve read, I see people describing this as a contemporary fantasy, but since it covers a child disappearing without a trace, I came out of it feeling it’s more a folk horror with a hopeful ending. The audiobook narration is enchanting and unsettling, with great voice work done to enhance the stylistic choices on page. It also adds to the eeriness of Toothworth’s narration as well, a combination of different voices throughout the village.
The magic within the novel is very slipstream, not quite explained, but very much rooted in something older than the village itself. I liked the way Porter approaches the rift between Lanny’s family who are newcomers to the village and those who have lived their entire lives. There’s mistrust and skepticism, and it really worked for me in terms of driving up the tension. In terms of the themes, collective myth and what belonging means are two of them, and the chosen perspectives bright those to life.
If you want to disappear into something magic, something examining art as a craft, and to be somewhat unsettled with the end result, give this a read.