‘Lanny’ by Max Porter – A Missing Boy During the New Dark Ages


‘Lanny’ by Max Porter (2019) – 210 pages

The villagers of the unnamed present-day English town in ‘Lanny’ chant their fears and superstitions and gossip in a chorus of disembodied voices like peasants from the Middle Ages. And listening to it all is Dead Papa Toothwort, an ancient earth and plant spirit who stirs in the air and on the ground.

Dead Papa Toothwort hears the cacophony of English voices.

Dead Papa Toothwort exhales, relaxes, lolls inside the stile, smiles and drinks it in, his English symphony.”

Dead Papa Toothwort picks up on all the chatter.

He swims in it, he gobbles it up and wraps himself in it, he rubs it all over himself, he pushes it into his holes, he gargles, plays, punctuates and grazes, licks and slurps at the sound of it, wanting it fizzing on his tongue, this place of his.”

The Age Of Reason is over, and superstitions, rumors, and lies have more credence than rational truth.

A family, Dad Robert and Mum Jolie and young son Lanny, live in the village. Dad commutes to London each day to earn a living. Mum was a former TV actress but now writes gory crime novels. The boy Lanny is too cute to the point of sappiness. Lanny’s Mum asks local notorious gay artist Mad Pete Blythe to give Lanny lessons in drawing and painting.

Lanny likes to scuffle off to the woods and play among the birds and trees, disappearing from his parents and causing them excessive worry. But Lanny always comes back…

After Lanny goes missing, the neighbors all suspect of course old Mad Pete. We are back to hearing the neighbors’ voices. The green and brown spirit Dead Papa Toothwort listens to them too.

The lights went out on the Age of Enlightenment, and we now live in the post-rational society after the end of the centuries-long Age of Reason. But Dead Papa Toothwort, that troublesome being from before recorded time, is still there slurping up our sounds and listening to us.


Grade:    B


4 responses to this post.

  1. I think you liked this book more than me.

    Liked by 1 person


    • Hi Kim,
      I probably did like it a bit more than you, but we both didn’t like it as much as most of the critics and many of the readers did. 🙂



  2. I much prefer the US cover to the UK one.I don’t know whether I want to read this book or not – one to request from the library methinks.

    Liked by 1 person


    • Hi Annabel,
      Soon the libraries will be faced with the inevitable slowdown in readership of ‘Lanny’ and will have many copies sitting there available for checkout. But I do see they are planning a movie of ‘Lanny’ with the actress Rachel Weisz producing and starring in it and I suppose CGA Graphics for Dead Papa Toothwort.

      Liked by 1 person


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