Review: The Lairdbalor by Kathleen Kaufman — Creepy and Chilling to the Core

Hi guys! If you ever want to watch a scary movie with me, please be warned that your experience will be full of me screaming, recoiling in terror, or pointing out every single mistake that the characters make in an attempt to lessen the severity of all the scares. Did you know I got scared and couldn’t watch the first scene of the new Ghostbusters movie because I didn’t think I could handle the jump scare? Yeah, that was really bad. But horror novels are different for some reason. When I’m reading a novel, I love to feel the chills down my spine and not want to continue on in fear of something bad happening. That’s why I decided to read and review The Lairdbalor by Kathleen Kaufman and give horror novels a try!

About The LairdbalorThe Lairdbalor

“I am the stuff of your nightmares . . . you have been writing my name on the walls of your fear your entire life.”

When seven-year-old Jamie falls down a very long hill, he finds himself trapped in a world of strange creatures, harsh landscapes, and near-perpetual darkness. Lost and confused, Jamie is desperate to get home. The nightmares, fears, and all manner of what-ifs that inhabit this shadow world are unfamiliar to him–all except one: the Lairdbalor, Jamie’s personal nightmare, once relegated to his dreams. In this fantastical land, however, the Lairdbalor and all the fears and nightmares of children are very real.

But Jamie’s nightmare is different. It is the sum total of the anger and anxiety that imprisoned him in his former life, and it threatens to consume and rule the nightmare realm, a place where time passes differently. With each slumber, Jamie finds himself inexorably changed. The farther he travels through this terrifying world, the better he understands the one he left behind.

Crossing genres of folklore, horror, fantasy, and magical realism, The Lairdbalor is about a child, but it’s not meant for children. It’s a story for anyone who lives with anxiety and fear and has ever wondered “what if” and a darkly imaginative meditation on life, death, fear, and the nature of reality.


Buy The Lairdbalor today!

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3 Stars

Disclaimer: Thanks so much to Turner Publisher for sending me a free physical copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! This will not affect my review in any other way.

To be honest, I’m not much of a horror person. I cannot watch horror movies, but I can with books (since I can control my imagination, haha). I decided to read and review The Lairdbalor because I wanted to try out the genre. As I concluded Kaufman’s debut novel, I feel a bit torn regarding my feelings towards the story. I enjoyed the spooks and the chills I felt as I traveled with Jamie through the nightmare world, but it got weird and perplexing for me from the midpoint. Although I round down my ratings, The Lairdbalor would actually receive a rating of 3.5 from me since it doesn’t exactly deserve either a 3 or a 4. It’s not that bad of a book, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I had hoped to.

The Lairdbalor is so haunting and creepy that it chills you to the core. It was very intriguing, and there were many times I was on the edge of my seat. I was scared for Jamie! But the deeper I went into the Nightmare World, the more enchanted and fascinated I became. The world was so delicately crafted that I fell in love with all the creatures, the places, and their origins. I was hooked from page one, and I enjoyed feeling the thrill of uncertainty and fear seeping from the text. I loved feeling goosebumps on my skin and my heart beating faster and faster.

Another thing I really love about this novel is that it’s written in the third-person limited, in which the narrator is outside of the story but can dig into Jamie’s thoughts. This was very effective because it captured Jamie’s innocence and fear yet allowed room for a sophisticated and advanced writing style that kept you wanting to read more and more. If the novel were in first person, it would lose that appeal. Kaufman’s poetic and elegant writing style transports readers into the main character’s shoes, making the audience feel the whirlwind of his thoughts and emotions as he is thrust headfirst into a frightening world that makes him question himself and his family.

However, as much as I liked this book, I had to put it down at times. Although it was interesting to see the philosophical side of the characters, it was a bit too much for me, and I disagree with some of it. I was really expecting a story in which the main character conquers his fears and the readers become inspired to be more courageous, but that wasn’t how The Lairdbalor turned out. It became depressing at times to where I had to stop and cheer myself up. Also, the story felt a bit stretched–the plot went somewhat in circles (like he’s on his way then he gets sidetracked again and again). It wasn’t very uplifting, which is why it did not click with me that much.

There’s no specific word you can use to describe what The Lairdbalor is. I kept asking myself, “What is this book?” and after finishing it, there’s still no right answer to it. Although it may not have clicked fully for me, it certainly did enrapture me in its storyline and prose at many points. It certainly is the perfect read for those who want to cower in their chairs and stay up late at night. I actually want to try out some more horror novels–it’s a genre that I think I need to delve deeper in!

Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Have you read The Lairdbalor? Do you like horror novels?

Comment below, or find me in one of my social media pages, and let’s chat!

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3 thoughts on “Review: The Lairdbalor by Kathleen Kaufman — Creepy and Chilling to the Core

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