Folly (Folly Island, #1) By Laurie R. King

An acclaimed master of suspense creates a heroine you will never forget in this superbly chilling novel of a woman who begins a desperate undertaking that may transform her life--or end it.


Rae Newborn is a woman on the edge: on the edge of sanity, on the edge of tragedy, and now on the edge of the world. She has moved to an island at the far reaches of the continent to restore the house of an equally haunted figure, her mysterious great-uncle; but as her life begins to rebuild itself along with the house, his story starts to wrap around hers. Powerful forces are stirring, but Rae cannot see where her reality leaves off and his fate begins.

Fifty-two years old, Rae must battle the feelings that have long tormented her--panic, melancholy, and a skin-crawling sense of watchers behind the trees. Before she came here, she believed that most of the things she feared existed only in her mind. And who can say, as disturbing incidents multiply, if any of the watchers on Folly Island might be real? Is Rae paranoid, as her family and the police believe, or is the threat real? Is the island alive with promise--or with dangers?

With Folly, award-winning author Laurie R. King once again powerfully redefines psychological suspense on a sophisticated and harrowing new level, and proves why legions of readers and reviewers have named her a master of the genre. Folly (Folly Island, #1)

Laurie R. King ✓ 8 Free read

5 stars, and very highly recommended. Mystery Thrillers, Historical Fiction, Gay Lesbian I just discovered Laurie King last month when I started reading The Beekeeper's Apprentice. This book's a far cry from the light-hearted story of Sherlock Holmes and his young protege, but I was instantly sucked into it. Having struggled with some of the mental issues the protagonist of this story suffers from, I was shocked at how well the author portrays them. Her ear for dialog is spot-on and I found myself often tearful at the profound insights she'd subtly slip into the thoughts of her characters.

I admit, I was a little disappointed with the ending. [SPOILER ALERT]

It felt to me like the book was meant to go on longer and then was inexplicably cut short. A character who could only be called the villain disappears without any fanfare and a brand new character is introduced 20 pages from the end, and nothing really comes of either of them. Top that with a big reveal that leaves you going, Huh? and the result is a spectacular book with a weirdly unsatisfying ending. That said, 99% of the book is really incredible and well worth the read. Mystery Thrillers, Historical Fiction, Gay Lesbian I am a big fan of Laurie King, especially her Mary Russell, Sherlock Holmes mysteries. So I picked up this book with a question mark in my mind as to whether I would like it because it is a stand alone novel. It turned out to be a gem. As usual, King's writing is superb and her characters are so well developed that she really takes you into another world. The story is about a middle aged woman, Rae who has had great tragedy, has lost her husband and daughter in a terrible accident and because of her mental instability before and after the accident is estranged from her daughter. Rae also happens to be a talented woodworking artist. As the story opens she is on her way to one of the San Juan islands off the coast of Washington which she has inherited from her great uncle. She has decided to live on the island alone and use her construction and artist skills to rebuild the only house on the island which burned down many decades ago, hoping that she will also rebuild her life and recover from her loss. Even though she is alone, there are many other important characters who visit and are woven into the story as well as a mystery, not disappointing those of us who have come to expect this from Laurie King.
Mystery Thrillers, Historical Fiction, Gay Lesbian Laurie King's Folly is a very sympathetic portrayal of the effects of psychosis and madness on the individual. In this case it is Rae Newborn who is literally reborn from her last bout of suicidal mental illness through the solitude of an uninhabited island and the project of rebuilding a burned-out house. We join her as she leaves therapy to live on an isolated island off the coast of Washington state. Her only human contact is a weekly visit by a tatooed man called Ed who drops off her supplies and picks up her laundry and shopping list. She starts off by dumping her medications into the Sound (pharmaceutical pollution!) to live drug free with her imaginary Watchers and her suicidal depression.

The mystery aspect of the novel is based on the old adage: just because you're paranoid doesn't mean the world isn't out to get you. She is a famous artist with her own and inherited wealth. Her son-in-law is involved in shady dealings and always seeking money from Rae. Her geat uncle Desmond originally built the house and disappeared when a mysterious fire destroyed it just before completion. Is someone out to get her or is she just psychotic? As the work on the house proceeds and her health improves this question keeps up the suspense.

The structure of the novel is broad sections named after the progress of the house reconstruction (Clearing the Ground, Laying the Foundations Building Walls, Raising the Roof Beam, and House Warming). Each of these is introduced by some brief statement by an anonymous Victim who seeks vengeance against The Thief. Who these two are the ultimate mystery of the novel. Each section is divided into chapters that are told from the point of view of Rae Newborn. To break up this a bit, the author introduces chapters throughout the text that are selections from Rae's journal, Desmond's journal, Rae's letters to her granddaughter Petra, and letters from Petra.

Laurie King is a master of character development and locale. Her depiction of Rae and the people with whom she interacts brings these people to rich and complex life. Even when the readers know they are minor characters, we are still treated to people who bring a complexity to their roles. This is also true of the setting in the San Juan islands. The pace and ecology of this community is lovingly portrayed. Add to these the technical details of house carpentry and woodworking, and you have a very rich and satisfying novel.

Folly is an excellent mystery. Without the known anchors of Ms. King's mystery series (Mary Russell and Kate Martinelli), this book may lack some of the success of books in those series. I found it difficult at the start because Rae has been suicidally depressed and I have a natural reluctance to make friends with people like that. Yet it is by confronting our discomfort that this book is ultimately successful in providing a deep insight into the stigma of mental illness. Mystery Thrillers, Historical Fiction, Gay Lesbian Ms. King can't be satisfied with two successful series', she also has to PWN some unbelievable stand alones. (The show off) Folly's mentally fragile MC, Ray Newborn, is such a masterfully drawn character. The tension builds as she tries to conquer her phobias and resurrect what's left of her sanity alone (she thinks) on an island in the pacific northwest, but not all her fears are irrational.
Tight. Mystery Thrillers, Historical Fiction, Gay Lesbian

I don't normally watch movies or read books about mental illness of my own volition (I went to go see A Beautiful Mind without really knowing what it was about; that's been it in recent years.) I've danced with the devil a few times (though never as dramatically as Rae) and I usually prefer other subject matter for my pleasure reading/movie consumption. But, I love and respect LRK's writing (and really, would read her grocery list at this point) and knew that if there was anyone who could handle the subject well of mental illness well, it would be her. And she did, with grace, dignity, and no small measure of humor. There was also a very good mystery/thriller along with the story of the protagonist, Rae, as well. I loved this book, and I'll be glomping down the kind-of followup as soon as I get a chance. Mystery Thrillers, Historical Fiction, Gay Lesbian This book was recommended to me by a friend. It was 400 pages long. I had gotten to page 200 and still didn't know why it was so wonderful! The book is about a 52 year old woman who has lost her husband and daughter in an accident. She was attacked and raped, was put into a psychiatric facility and is now trying to heal. To do so, she decides to go to an island that she inherited from a great uncle. It is a small island which serves now as a bird sanctuary and no one lives there. The main character is an artist who works with wood and also has building skills. SHe goes back to this island to rebuild the house that her great uncle built and to heal. THe book was just okay with about the last 60 pages being the best part of the story. Maybe you should just read the first 100 and the last 100 and you would like the book! I can't wait to talk to my friend about it to see just why she liked it so very much. Now I need to go to my pile of books and see what I will read next. This took me so long to read that I just might want to choose something that will be a much faster read for me. Mystery Thrillers, Historical Fiction, Gay Lesbian FOLLY (Mys/Novel-Rae Newborn-Washington State-Cont) – Ex
King, Laurie R. – Standalone
Bantam, 2001, US Hardcover – ISBN: 0553111035

First Sentence: The gray-haired woman stood with her boots planted on the rocky promontory and watched what was left of her family pull away.

Rae Newborn is a woodworker whose work appears in galleries and museums. She is also a woman who has known tragedy, severe depression and attempted suicide more than once. Working to put her life back on track, Rae has come to Salvation Island to rebuild the house, known as Folly, built by her great-uncle and by fire. She is dealing with her fears after having been viciously attacked and a feeling of being watched.

Things don’t improve when she finds a footprint that’s not hers, learns her house in Los Angeles has been broken into and discovered a skeleton still containing the killing bullet.

This was a re-read for me and I found it as good the second time. Rae is a powerful character. In spite of her problems and past, you feel her strength and admire her self-awareness. Since the story is told in first-person, you have a real feel for her emotions and fears.

There is an interesting assortment of supporting character, including dead great-uncle Desmond, who are interesting in themselves but also act as a foil for Rae in demonstrating her determination.

I loved King’s attention to detail and powers of description. Even if you’ve never worked with wood, anyone with a craft they love and recognition for the importance of the tools of that craft, will appreciate the descriptions of the wood her awareness of her tools.

The mystery isn’t a traditional one. There is the present day mystery of whom, if anyone, is after Rae and the secondary mystery of Desmond, who came to the island with his own need to recover from shell shock after WWI.

Folly is a wonderful, emotional story and my favorite of anything King has written thus far.
Mystery Thrillers, Historical Fiction, Gay Lesbian This book took my breath away. It was a mystery that was resolved in the casual and not so casual conversations of a woman coming to terms with loss and grief in a malevolent environment. It was about rebuilding literally a house on a made up San Juan Island in the Pacific Northwest and in the process resolving many clues about her family. The writing was superb almost poetic and yet the plot and character development was complex and the action required a careful read. Highly recommended to everyone. Mystery Thrillers, Historical Fiction, Gay Lesbian I loved Folly! I liked the way Laurie R King develops the connection between rebuilding a life that is in shambles and rebuilding a house from the foundation up.
I had a bit of trouble getting out to do chores outside and getting to bed at a decent hour until I finished listening.
Great read/listen. Mystery Thrillers, Historical Fiction, Gay Lesbian