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The Keep by Jennifer Egan

A ghostly air of ominousness hangs over this book from the start. You know it is going to end badly, you just don’t know how, but then, there’s a small twist and you think maybe, despite all indications to the contrary, things might end up OK. Because on examination, this sense of impending tragedy stems from human mistakes, missteps, errors of judgment, not some insidious evil or supernatural presence invading from outside. Can’t people do bad things and then go on to do good? Reform and redemption are possible, aren’t they?
Broke and in trouble, Danny had to get out of New York City quickly, and an invitation to work for a cousin he hadn’t seen in twenty years renovating a castle in some Eastern European country, he doesn’t even really know where, seems like his best means of escape. Danny still feels guilty about the last time he saw Howie (when they were both just kids) and he took part in playing a prank on him that went horribly wrong, but he hopes that Howie’s invitation is a sign of forgiveness. Isolated and completely cut off from the outside world once he’s at the castle, though, and seeing how the balance of power has shifted entirely to Howie — no longer the nerdy, pudgy kid that Danny remembers — Danny wonders if he’s made a disastrous mistake.

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