DON’T GO, SPOOKTOBER!!!
this is a rounded-up four because it has a whole bunch of problems, but for every iffy part, there’s a horrific and memorable scene that makes up for it. many of which involve snakes. to be honest, i’m happy enough just being entertained these days—i don’t need to be enriched or educated, i crave diversion, and this book absolutely fits the bill.
it’s a haunted house/family mystery story about a woman named maggie holt who, as a little girl, lived in a house as saturated by the supernatural The Amityville Horror. her family lasted less than a month before being spooked right on outta there, and maggie was only five years old, so she has no real memories of her time there, but, also like The Amityville Horror, her father wrote a best-selling book about their experiences, none of which adult-maggie believes. when her father dies, she learns that he still owned the property, and has left it to her, so, against his dying wishes and her mother’s living recommendation, she decides to check it out on her own.
the novel back-and-forths between chapters of her father’s book and her ‘present-day’ experiences, building up a fantastic head of steam and one helluvan unsettling atmosphere; one striking moment of inexplicable creepiness after another.
i read this in one big gulp, and it’s a spookyfun page-turner, but it’s built upon a highly unstable foundation, which, should you stop to examine or poke at it, falls apart into a real big mess.
you have to believe that View Spoiler »in the span of twenty days, TWO different women would have, ON MULTIPLE OCCASIONS, snuck into a little girl’s bedroom via a secret passageway late at night for their own reasons, never encountering each other on these nocturnal visits « Hide Spoiler. you have to believe that View Spoiler »instead of speaking to the decision-making adults of the household, a grown woman would decide that the best way to protect a family from a ‘cursed’ house would be to loom over a sleeping child and tell her, “You’re going to die here” « Hide Spoiler. you have to believe that View Spoiler »two educated adults would concoct an elaborate ruse in order to protect A FIVE YEAR OLD GIRL from murder charges. not ‘accidental manslaughter,’ but straight-up murder. to not only believe a five-year-old has a sophisticated understanding of right and wrong, and is capable of calculating and carrying out a murder, but also believing that there would be any actual legal repercussions even if that five-year-old HAD pushed someone down some stairs « Hide Spoiler.
i mean, all of that is so far-fetched a labrador retriever couldn’t bring it back to you, but it also doesn’t really matter, because while those revelations are beyond bonkers, the momentum leading up to them is fantastic, and although you need to suspend disbelief to accept some of the more illogical details, there are strewn amongst them some legitimately satisfying explanations. and also snakes. so many snakes.
overall, it’s an effective and engaging ride, and if you can squint your way through the dubious bits, you’ll have a lot of fun with it.