Real hauntings, metaphorical hauntings, skeptics, murder, conspiracy theories, sex maniacs, backstabbing, creepy kids—this book has it all.
A haunted house story is just about my favorite thing. I can't get enough of them—I think it's probably the most interesting setting for a book. ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN.
Janz ups the ante in this book because not only are we dealing with a (potentially) haunted house, but main character David is also haunted by his past.
David is a sort of haunting debunker who writes books about his (lack of) experiences in supposedly haunted places. When his buddy Chris asks him to come check out the notorious Alexander House, he accepts, but the Virginian peninsula the house sits on holds more than a chilling past, it also holds bad memories for David, as it is where he last spent time with his girlfriend Anna before he broke her heart. Soon after she killed herself and he's always blamed himself for her death.
That is really just scratching the surface of everything that's going on in this book—you have to read it to get the full effect!
This is one of those books I found myself thinking about when I wasn't reading it. I wanted to know what was going to happen next and I was definitely trying to figure out the twists and turns, which is always fun.
Sometimes the book has too much going on. Between multiple ghosts, a side plot of crazy neighbors next door (that does end up tying in satisfyingly), a potential love interest, having to explain the backstory and historical parts, run-ins with the cops, and everyone seeming to turn on David, I felt there were places that the plot could have been streamlined for easier reading. There was one scene with an entity toward the end (sorry to be vague—trying to be spoiler-free!) that felt especially unnecessary and I really didn't see the point of; it felt like filler at the end of a story that had already concluded.
The chaos doesn't detract that much from the book; somehow Janz is able to keep most of the plates spinning throughout this wild story. He is great with dialogue (minus some cheese that felt unrealistic in the flirting scenes). The suspense and tension built throughout the scenes in the creepy house are really fantastic and gave me that creeping sense of dread I really love. Janz also knows how to break up the tension with moments of comedy, even absurdity.
There are also really horrific scenes of multiple types. The horror of what people do to each other and those they are supposed to care for and about, as well as supernatural horror and gore. I enjoyed it all.
A great horror read, and it should definitely be on the list for haunted house enthusiasts. This is my second book of Janz's (the first being Children of the Dark) and I am definitely on board for whatever else comes next.
My thanks to Flame Tree Press for sending an advance copy of this one to read and review.
Associate editor, amateur photdographer, bibliophile, and occasional sleuth.