Sunday, November 27, 2011

Locked in Time, by Lois Duncan: Creepy Cajun crazies

Locked in Time. Duncan, Lois (2006).  
NY: Laurel Leaf Books.

Ooooh scary, scary Lois Duncan.  How you used to titillate me with tales of paranormal murderous twins separated at birth, or axe murderers out for revenge.  Somehow, shockingly, I remember you being much more frightening when I was twelve then I did at this go around.    Locked in Time takes place down on the Louisiana Bayou, where our fair young protagonist, Nore (short for Eleanor), has gone to summer with her recently remarried Dad.  Nore's mother died in a horrible car accident six months ago while Nore was away at boarding school, and her wealthy author father up and got remarried to a Southern belle, Lisette, with two teenaged children of her own, Gabriel and Josie.  Nore is justifiably weirded out by this situation, but tries to remain supportive, at least until she begins to realize things might not be as they seem.  Her step-family seems normal enough, but they seem to drop references about way old historical events as if they were there, and old people around town recognize them as if they were old friends. She manages to overlook her dirty crush on her hot stepbrother for long enough to realize something very fishy is going on, and it ain't the crawfish!  Old Cajun stories tell of people who can live forever, trapped at a certain age.  Is this what is going on, or is Nore just really pissed at her Dad? She's fighting for her life, and she doesn't even know it yet. 

But we do.  Oh yes, do we ever.  Lois Duncan certainly isn't one to beat around the bush or make her readers think deep thoughts.  If she introduces a character and anything shifty is said, thought, or generally occurs, said character is bound to be a shifty/murderous/vengeful antagonist.  Tension is always high and the text is fast paced.  Someone is always out to get the protagonist.  For this, she was totally top of the game back when I was first reading her books.  Now, there are some references that are kind of, no, TOTALLY dated.  Hanging out at a disco?  Really?  What is this, a high school trip to Tijuana?  Did we jump in the Delorean and head back to 1979?  Instead of waiting phoneless for a landline, wouldn't someone have a cell phone? Despite these nuances, the scary factor remains unchanged, probably because Duncan weaves a tight and quick web of a plot that itches to be raced through.  I vote G for girls, Y for younger YA's (older kids might not enjoy having the plot handed to them as readily), and H for horror genre. 

Book talk hook:  This is one where a summary that plays upon the mystery would work well.  I'd also read a scene in which the question of the age of the characters is raised to titillate my young reader friends.

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