What’s worse than leaving LA behind for frozen, slushy Idaho? Moving into a gloomy, pest-ridden, and probably haunted mansion.
In this Blair Witch Project–style offering, high school junior Paige moves with her younger brother and her New Age–y mother, an aging actor. Mom wants to reinvent herself, and Paige wants to be supportive after her father’s infidelity and remarriage to a younger woman…but Idaho’s bleak. The house’s infested with flies and, to Paige’s particular horror, spiders. The Internet and phone reception are spotty, and Paige’s phone sends creepy messages on its own and delays or duplicates incoming messages regularly. She and her one friend, goth Chloe, investigate the house’s history and the activities of gorgeous, gay downstairs neighbor Raph, a college student on medical leave. As the haunting worsens, Mom insists they live in harmony with the spirits. After a shaman’s scared off, Raph brings in Montague Verano (the book’s putative editor, who presents Paige’s diary as documentary evidence), an expert in Psychiana, the cult that used to occupy the house. The truth behind the haunting’s stranger and more violent than anyone could guess. The tale unfolds in Paige’s online diary, written in a strong and natural-sounding teen voice. Secret messages in repeated entries and foggy black-and-white photos up the creep factor.
Somewhat slow pacing and a horror-movie ending may disappoint some, but here’s one not to read in the dark. (Horror. 14-18)