An evil house manipulates its residents to dark ends in this novel inspired by The Amityville Horror (1977).
Connor’s family moves into the odd, old house—Amity—for a fresh start after the family patriarch’s sketchy business practices force their move. Ten years later, Gwen’s family seeks a new start after a mysterious incident Gwen was involved in, hoping country life will help stabilize her. They both have a close relationship with an opposite-gender sibling and enough personal issues to make them unreliable narrators. The split first-person narrative shows the parallels between their experiences, occasionally repeating revelations, but the protagonists fit into different parts of the house’s pattern of violence and horror, which keeps the two stories from feeling stale. The house shares its bag of tricks with the famous Amityville incident—flies, specific and significant numbers, the basement’s hidden red room, and of course dreams of grisly crimes. The narrative consists of very many short chapters that are most effectively deployed in the rapid acceleration to the climax; earlier, they feel jarringly jumpy. The dark history of the house isn’t kept a mystery—the object is dwelling in the horror, not uncovering it—and the house’s nature is openly evil from the start. The refreshing lack of romance enhances the claustrophobic atmosphere, and while the foreshadowing gives away a lot, the conclusion still surprises.
A dark read for a darker night. (Horror. 13 & up)