In the lineup of books for which I need to write reviews, this one was actually scheduled for sometime mid-November. But it is actually the scariest book I've read in awhile, and therefore really deserved to be posted the day before Halloween.
I have one person, and one person ONLY to blame for me reading this pleasant-looking book. And that would be Raych. Thanks Raych. I lost a little of my soul with this one (but I loved every minute of it).
Synopsis: Doesn't this book look peaceful and pretty? Nothing menacing here. Until you open the first chapter, and the narrator, one Colquitt Kennedy, tells you that the house next door is haunted, that she and her husband are warning the world, and they probably won't live much longer as a result.
Immediately Colquitt draws you into the story. She starts with the first family...a young couple about to have their first child...that buys the beautiful wooded lot next door and hires a genius architect to build their dream house. Colquitt and her husband Walter are affluent, Southern yuppies who love to have drinks on their back porch and have barbecues with their neighbors, so they welcome the couple, and the architect, with open arms. Things start to go wrong almost immediately, but is chalked up to really unfortunate accidents. (Since Raych warned you, I will too. Dead puppies ahoy...and more.)
With each family that moves in and moves out of the house, the "incidents" get progressively worse. It seems that the house, or the malevolent presence within it, seeks out the inhabitants' weaknesses and preys upon them. And if the friendly neighbors get too close or too invested? Well, no one is safe.
My thoughts: This is classic, organic horror...an evil house, an undefinable presence, human frailties laid out for all to see, with horrible consequences. It is the stuff of Stephen King (in fact he named this book as one of the best 20th century novels in the genre). It shocked me to learn that the book was written in 1978 by an author not even known for writing in the horror genre, but Southern fiction.
This story is not gentle. Sure, it is presented to us with Southern grace and charm. Parties and cocktails and gardening and country clubs. But behind the polite smiles and propriety is shocking, horrifying, grimace-inducing violence, destruction of lives, heavily laced with sex. There were moments when my eyes were popping out of my skull, screaming "Oh my God!". There is also a dark menacing cloud hanging overhead that is emphasized by Siddons' plentiful use of foreshadowing...you know the bad shit is coming, and you can't stop it. I found it terrifying to imagine who or what would get it next. Siddons has no sacred cows. The cows can get thrown under the bus, right along with everyone and everything else.
I loved the characters scurrying around in this story. Siddons had to have based them on people she knew, they were all so quirky and real, you could imagine them standing right in front of you, gossiping, crying, raging. They weren't all likable, but they were unforgettable.
For those who like classic, literary horror, served on a crystal platter with a round of mint juleps, you shouldn't miss out on this one.
5 out of 5