Title: "The Locktender's House"

Author: Steven Sherrill

Publisher: Random House

Pages: 259

Price: $25

In a nutshell: Janice Witherspoon hardly knew the boyfriend whose apartment they shared in North Carolina, yet her life explodes when he is killed while a soldier in Iraq. Forced out of the apartment by his family, she drives aimlessly, thinking more and more that she is responding to voices. Finally, she ends up at an abandoned lockhouse in rural Pennsylvania, where she stays for a long time. Her isolation ends with her meeting of a stone carver/art teacher, who lives nearby, and they become romantic. But the romance keeps getting sidelined by frightening, inexplicable events that the reader only slowly understands. This is an artfully written, fascinating literary narrative that must be labeled a splendid horror story.