HOMEBODY by Orson Scott Card


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Another mainstream contemporary supernatural (Treasure Box, 1996; Lost Boys, 1992) from sf/fantasy author Card. Builder Don Lark's life fell apart after his drunken ex-wife killed their two-year-old daughter in a car smash; now he looks for old houses to buy, fix up, and sell, and then move on. In Greensboro, North Carolina, realtor Cindy Claybourne sells him the Bellamy house, a magnificent but badly neglected residence. Don's new neighbors, the ancient Miz Evelyn, Miz Judea, and their bedridden companion Gladys, seem nice enough but mutter darkly about the house. Meanwhile, Don and Cindy find each other attractive, though when they realize that they both have inconsolable sorrows, their affair subsides--while as a result Don's forced to pay quit money to a local lawyer who threatens to blackmail him. And, he discovers, the house is inhabited by curiously elusive Sylvie Delaney, who seems able to drift in and out when she pleases and requires no food or drink. Still, the renovations go well until Don realizes that the stronger the house gets, the weaker his neighbors become. The "Weird Sisters" next door, it tums out, were prostitutes in the house in the 1920s when it was a brothel and speakeasy, and it still has some sort of hold on them. Sylvie the ghost was another former resident: during the renovation, Don discovers her body in an abandoned tunnel. Ironically, though, Sylvie didn't realize she was dead--she thought she'd murdered her roomie, Lissy, ten years earlier, but the reverse was true. And now Don, emotionally involved with Sylvie, must somehow trace the murderous, long-vanished Lissy and trick her into returning to the house for a showdown. Solid but undistinguished work, not high either in tension or in depth. Still, it'll probably work better as a movie than as a novel.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-06-017655-5
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1998


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