My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The house by the cemetery has always had a ghostly reputation, ever since something terrible took place on its grounds decades earlier. Embracing the rumours and the fascination that comes with it, a group of horror lovers take over and transform each and every room into a Halloween paradise. Mike Kostner finds himself neck-deep in the new and popular attraction, but whilst it may have started as just another job to pay the bills, it soon turns into a struggle of love and death.
(WARNING: This review contains MAJOR spoilers.)
I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I thank Flame Tree Press for giving me the opportunity.
This was my second Everson visit, as earlier in the year I read and reviewed his spider-themed Violet Eyes. The experience of this book was largely similar to the previous, in that I enjoyed some aspects and yet didn’t care for others. One thing both titles had in common was the introduction of a sizeable amount of characters, and I often found it a jarring ordeal in trying to remember everyone and where exactly they fit in. In particular, the group of designers that worked on the house muddled my mind; I found myself getting frequently mixed up with their names and that, in turn, led to some frustration. I however understood their importance in terms of references, as the plot itself took advantage of mentioning various classics of on-screen horror. Most notably, the Italian director Dario Argento was appreciated in more ways than one, and the usual contenders such as The Exorcist and Hellraiser also had their moments in the spotlight. Anything else these numerous personalities offered were simply redundant, apart from their predicted deaths, and so I honestly felt that there were far too many pieces on the board.
My interest primarily lay with Mike and his very bizarre relationship that blossomed over the space of several weeks. At first, Mike appeared to be the respectable sort, and a very decent protagonist, but as time progressed, his sense of character dwindled pathetically until I felt the story was trying to force suspension of disbelief. I couldn’t quite wrap my head around his self-destructive obsession with the woman in question – was it purely to do with sex? It occurred to me then, that perhaps his mind was being influenced, or even charmed by way of supernatural forces. There was no direct confirmations of it, but it was a better explanation than simple idiocy. His reactions, or lack thereof when it came to certain revelations, were either a very poor depiction of character, or a clever portrayal of bewitchment. Either way, it wasn’t made clear, which leads me to believe the overall intention was to evoke speculation.
Of course, the blood-soaked carnage came into play, yet it was later than expected. Most of the early chapters actually consisted of unnecessary details revolving around the restoration of the house. I skimmed over multiple portions that delved too deeply into carpentry, and at one time or another I stopped altogether. Filler definitely serves its purpose, but it can be deathly stale. That said, toward the end is where events took a turn for the better; a mountain (or bridge as it were) of gore took the forefront, and some scenes were extremely well written and memorable. Indeed the tone took on a B-movie quality, but that was the opposite of a bad thing.
The element that most intrigued me was the history surrounding Bachelor’s Grove, and the coven of witches that were mentioned multiple times throughout. It offered a tremendous amount of potential that I feel was wasted, especially when the beginning was so slow and could have benefited from some flashbacks. Disappointment was in abundance in that regard – Katie and Emery’s past really appealed, I would have been thrilled to discover more.
In conclusion: Everson’s murderous brutality really stood out, however it felt like a long journey to finally reach the peak. Unfortunately, the padding left me disinterested and I scanned over some earlier scenes that dragged on. Despite my complaints, I do still recommend this one.
Jeanie now realised that there was a difference between the screams that they’d elicited in patrons from an unexpected scare versus those in a true deadly situation. The cries of true horror sounded different. It wasn’t something she could have explained, but you could hear it.
© Red Lace 2018